‘Great partnership’

Area Head Start, public health programs team up to offer COVID-19 vaccine clinic to parents

Submitted photo Public health nurses with Southwest Health and Human Services gave COVID-19 vaccinations to area parents last month, during a clinic held at the Head Start location in Marshall. Head Start and SWHHS staff helped give parents information on the vaccine, as well as the opportunity to be vaccinated. Participating parents will be receiving their second vaccine doses later this week.

MARSHALL — Head Start and Early Head Start programs aren’t only about learning — Head Start staff and home visitors also build relationships of trust with area families. That connection of trust offered an opportunity for Head Start to help with COVID-19 vaccination outreach efforts in Lyon County, said Mary Lockhart-Findling, Head Start director with United Community Action Partnership.

In June, Early Head Start home visitors held an informational meeting for parents and a vaccination clinic at UCAP’s Head Start building in Marshall. Parents who received their first doses of COVID vaccine through the clinic will be receiving their second doses later this week.

The clinic was a chance to help break down barriers to health care for Marshall area families, Lockhart-Findling said.

“A lot of families we serve maybe have some distrust of the health care community,” she said. “Head Start is a place of trust.”

The first vaccination clinic was held at the Head Start building in Marshall on June 18. A total of eight parents received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from public health nurses, said Southwest Health and Human Services Public Health Director Carol Biren.

“It was a great partnership, meeting people where they are at,” Biren said of the clinic.

Health and nutrition are important parts of the federally-funded Head Start program, Lockhart-Findling said. UCAP provides Head Start services to families across its nine-county service area in southwest Minnesota.

The Marshall area Head Start location is licensed for 124 students, and around 30 more children in the Marshall area are served through the Early Head Start program, which offers home-based services for pregnant mothers and children up to three years of age.

Lockhart-Findling said the Marshall area vaccination clinic was held on the same day as a socialization event for parents and children. Early Head Start home visitors and public health nurses were able to share information about the COVID-19 vaccine with parents. Parents could also choose to get the vaccine at the clinic.

Lockhart-Findling said the response from area families was positive.

“For us, if we got one person vaccinated, it was a success,” she said.

Lockhart-Findling said UCAP was interested in helping to coordinate similar vaccination clinics in other communities in the future, especially when COVID-19 vaccines are approved for younger children.


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