The Department of Public Health and Social Services held a special vaccine clinic Sunday to reach out to the FSM community.
DPHSS spokesperson Janela Carrera told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo Monday morning that the clinic went well.
“We had a pretty good turnout I would say. A lot of our brothers and sisters from the neighboring islands showed up. And GRMC was there, our partners from the FSM Association of Guam, from the FSM Consulate Office were there, and overall it was just…you know…a really huge success,” Carrera said.
The clinic was held at the Dededo Senior Center across from the Santa Barbara Church.
300 doses were available and about 270 were administered.
Of those, about 90% were administered to members of the FSM community as well as those from other communities within the Freely Associated States.
The clinic was originally scheduled to provide 150 doses.
That number was increased because of the strong interest shown after the clinic was announced by the Chuukese Catholic Faith Association after church services last week.
The FSM community is considered highly vulnerable to community spread but historically has had low turnouts at other vaccine clinics.
Part of the low turnout is attributed to issues such as limited access to healthcare and transportation.
But part of it is also attributed to a certain amount of skepticism of the larger community on Guam, which many feel has stigmatized the FSM community.
Establishing trust through active engagement…with respected members and organizations within the FSM community is believed to be key to improving vaccination rates.
And so far, it looks like it’s been working.
“We were so excited and we’re getting a lot of interest from the FSM community. Now, we’re trying to see if we can work with other communities within the Freely Associated States as well … Palau, the Marshallese community, ands other church groups. We’re ready. We’re ready to go and continue to help our brothers in the FSM and FAS community,” Carrera said.
Public Health is currently planning future vaccination clinics for the FSM and larger FAS communities.