Garfield County Public Health seeks to build COVID-19 vaccine trust with video-story project |

Garfield County Public Health seeks to build COVID-19 vaccine trust with video-story project

Emphasis placed on reaching more Latinos within the community

Sylvia Johnson, contact tracer and La Vacuna Es Para Nosotros project lead for Garfield County Public Health.

A new project of Garfield County Public Health — complete with video, pictures and personal narratives — is aimed at building trust in the push to convince those who may still be hesitant about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, especially within the Latino community.

La Vacuna es Para Nosotros, or “the Vaccine is For Us,” is a photo and video essay project sponsored by Public Health and created by Sylvia Johnson, who has been working as a bilingual contact tracer for the county since last fall.

Johnson is a professional videographer and photographer who was born in Latin America and raised in the Roaring Fork Valley.

She is also a National Geographic “Explorer,” a program that identifies people around the world who are gifted at raising awareness and helping solve problems through their work.

Johnson applied for and got approval for a small National Geographic Rapid Response grant to fund the project.

She said the project came about from listening to people’s stories about what it’s been like to live with the pandemic over the past year, and especially from those who had COVID-19.

“It was a chance to humanize the experience, and provide an opportunity for our essential workers and service workers to tell the story of what their experience has been like,” she said.

It’s also a way to share their personal decisions to get vaccinated, and why that was important to moving forward with their lives, Johnson said.

The project consists of 14 photo stories and a short video created by Johnson.

“By sharing stories that build trust and calm fears about the COVID-19 vaccine, we can end the pandemic,” Garfield County Public Health Specialist Carrie Godes said.

The photo stories include whole families, restaurant workers, business owners, farm workers, law enforcement officers, housekeepers, medical interpreters and students.

The photo stories are available in Spanish and English, and the project includes a dedicated web page on the Garfield County website with a link to the 2-minute, 15-second video and a 29-page digital story book.

The project also is to include a marketing campaign with audio clips for radio, as well as print and social media advertising.

As of Monday, 45% of Garfield County’s population that is eligible to receive the vaccine has been fully vaccinated, and 55% has received at least one dose of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to Garfield Public Health statistics.

Although not everyone who gets the vaccine answers demographic information, according to the Colorado Immunization Information System, 12% of Garfield County residents who received at least one dose have been Hispanic and 27% are unknown.

Of the vaccines administered by Garfield County Public Health, which accounts for only a small percentage of those administered countywide, 36% indicated that they are Hispanic, while 48% are White/Non-Hispanic and 12% are unknown, Godes said.

Meanwhile, the county continues to step up its vaccination efforts alongside providers such as Valley View and Grand River hospitals.

Site-based clinics are being conducted multiple times a week from Carbondale to Parachute, and the state’s pop-up mobile clinic has been making visits to specific underserved neighborhoods across the county, Godes said.

“Our goal is to make things more accessible, and more equitable,” she said.

County efforts have also targeted the homeless, the county jail population, those in hospice care, high schools and, soon now that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for the 12- to 15-year-old age group, middle school students as well.

Clinics have also been conducted at some places of employment, and more could be offered by request, Godes said.

“We are targeting neighborhoods and geographic areas with identified needs at the moment,” she said. “The areas we have been targeting are easy to access locations in each municipality, such as schools, low-income neighborhoods or areas with homes that lack easy access to public transportation.”

The vaccination effort is having an impact on the number of new COVID-19 cases in Garfield County. As of Monday, the daily incident rate was less than six, with a one-week case count of 30 and a test positivity rate of 2.2%.

“The vaccinations are working, and the proof is in the numbers,” County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said during the commissioners’ regular Monday meeting.

Added Commissioner Mike Samson, “I would just encourage everyone to get vaccinated … so we can get back to normal.”

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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