Guatemalan migrant community in Omaha offered vaccinations and information in their language

May 14, 2021, Omaha, Neb. — An effort is underway to get COVID-19 vaccinations into the arms of the people who are underserved in Omaha. The migrant community in town who may not have information in their local language, is critical to reach out to in order for all people to be safer, sooner.

112 people we vaccinated Sunday, May 23 at Guadalupe Hall at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and 56 people were vaccinated at St. Francis of Assisi Church the week before.

“Having more of our migrant community vaccinated would mean that our entire community is safe and healthy,” said Charlie Petro, Executive Director of Ixim. “It’s great for people with easy access to get a shot and go back out to restaurants and normal life, but that’s not everyone. Vaccinating everyone means that we can all get back out in a safe and healthy way.”

Ixim: Spirit of Solidarity is an archdiocesan ministry cultivating relationships of friendship, faith, and solidarity between the Archdiocese of Omaha and the Diocese of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. 

In partnership with OneWorld Community Health Center, Ixim offered the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination clinics in South Omaha to help get the shot into the arms of people who may otherwise have difficulty signing up for an appointment through a government or pharmacy online portal. 

“Why go out of our way to reach out to migrants about the vaccination? Because many people do not have the English-language skills or the access to technology in order to learn about vaccinations and make an appointment,” said Mary Kay Meagher, a nurse and Notre Dame Sister who has volunteered with Ixim since 2003. “Everyone is as worthy of this life-saving vaccine as anyone else is.” 

Ixim has been reaching out to the Mayan and larger Guatemalan community for weeks, going to churches, reaching out on Spanish-language radio stations and handing out flyers across South Omaha.

“We’ve been getting community leaders to hand out flyers with us to encourage people to get the shot,” said Mr. Petro.

No appointment, ID, or any information were required to get the vaccine; anyone and everyone was welcome.

“We noticed, this time last year, we had an incredible number of cases in our community,” said Mr. Petro. “The migrant community at large has been greatly impacted by COVID. We are still seeing infections spreading in the migrant community, due to many factors.”

“Reaching out to diverse communities is what we do at OneWorld,” said Chief Executive Officer, OneWorld Community Health Centers. “We want to make sure everyone has access to quality health care. It is especially important right now to be protected from the virus. We are very proud to partner with the Mayan community and Notre Dame Sisters to make vaccines available. This is lifesaving!”

That is why a vaccination campaign has been prioritized. It is the hope of Ixim that COVID-19 related deaths in the migrant community end, when vaccinations cause the infection rate to decrease.