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caption: Seattle Firefighter and EMT Dave Pedras, left, administers the first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for Du, 87, on Thursday, February 18, 2021, at the West Seattle Covid-19 testing site on Southwest Thistle Street in Seattle. The pop-up vaccination clinic was set up for older Latino community members who were referred by El Comite or Villa Comunitaria. 
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Seattle Firefighter and EMT Dave Pedras, left, administers the first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for Du, 87, on Thursday, February 18, 2021, at the West Seattle Covid-19 testing site on Southwest Thistle Street in Seattle. The pop-up vaccination clinic was set up for older Latino community members who were referred by El Comite or Villa Comunitaria.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

A few new glitches with Seattle’s pop-up vaccine clinic for Latinos

Pop-up vaccination clinics in targeted neighborhoods are part of the City of Seattle’s effort to reach more vulnerable Latinos and other groups hard-hit by Covid-19.

But they’ve hit some recent snags, from website glitches to people showing up for appointments at the wrong address.

Francisco Robles and his wife Maria Contreras de Jesus drove 45 minutes from Mill Creek to the clinic in West Seattle last Thursday.

It was urgent for them to get vaccinated. They both work at a restaurant and interact with customers. Maria’s sister is currently hospitalized due to Covid-19 complications.

“It’s saturated over there. We tried getting it [the vaccine] but we haven’t been able to. That's why we came all the way over here,” Robles said in Spanish.

They found out about this clinic through word of mouth.

The city’s goal was to vaccinate 750 people at this three-day clinic, with a focus on Latinos, who make about 25% of confirmed Covid-19 cases. Instead, they vaccinated just 630 people. A spokesperson with the City of Seattle said they believed that was largely due to a vaccine shortage caused by recent winter storms.

The city is working with community groups like Villa Comunitaria, El Comité, and the Senior Center of West Seattle to help eligible people sign up for these vaccine appointments, focusing too on the area comprised of West Seattle, Highline, and Delridge because it's currently under vaccinated compared to other neighborhoods.

But those same community groups have also run into complications with this city-run program. Gray Garrido with Villa Comunitaria said the challenges started with the city-created website to sign people up. Villa Comunitaria originally received 100 online vaccination slots for their community members. They got to work making appointments, but eventually realized the website wouldn't let them book all 100 slots.

"We definitely felt that frustration of it being like, 'Why is this site not helping us?' Instead it kind of feels like it's hindering us," Garrido said of the experience. The city sent Villa Comunitaria a new link and manually added some people to the list.

Another challenge came with the confirmation texts and emails the city sent out to people who signed up. Sometimes it showed the wrong appointment time. In a few instances, community members showed up to the wrong location due to all three community organizations being named alongside with the pop-up clinic location.

"I think they were getting confused. And they were either showing up at the Senior Center or our location," Garrido said.

The Senior Center of West Seattle confirmed they had similar technical issues with the website, and with people showing up to the wrong address.

Garrido had signed up 51 people on Thursday. But she isn't sure how many people ultimately made it to their appointments. The Senior Center of West Seattle says its staff vaccinated 42 people throughout the day, though they originally had 50 slots offered to them.

El Comité, the third community partner in the pop-up clinic, said they were also given 100 slots, though they registered more people than that.

Kelsey Nyland, a spokesperson for the City of Seattle, said the city reached out to the vendor in charge of the online system and addressed those glitches. She said an estimated 19 people missed their appointments. However, Nyland noted that this was the first time the city attempted to pre-register people and partner with community organizations in a pop-up clinic model.

The city is looking to bring more pop-ups and fixed clinics, Nyland said —especially to areas like South Seattle. But there’s no set timeline.

“We clearly have the infrastructure to make that go live. We just don’t have the doses,” she said.

An estimated 12% of Washington residents have received at least their first dose of the vaccine, according to the Washington Department of Health data. State health officials have set a goal of vaccinating 45,000 people per day. So far, they have not been able to meet that goal.