Coralville Food Pantry administers over 500 COVID-19 vaccinations to pantry patrons

The Coralville Food Pantry hosted the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Coralville Public Library to reduce stigma around hospital and pharmacy vaccinations.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

First year University of Iowa student and Coralville Food Pantry volunteer Tommy Stevens poses for a portrait in Downtown Iowa City on March 23, 2021.

Sabine Martin, News Reporter

Standing outside of the Coralville Food Pantry’s drive-thru food pick-up with a tablet in hand, Tommy Stevens’ job is to survey pantry members about their interest in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Stevens, a University of Iowa first-year student, regularly volunteers at the pantry on Tuesdays.

Stevens said about 40 people during that shift had an interest in the vaccine, but they didn’t want to get one at a hospital.

“The food pantry wants to set up a vaccine clinic because there is a large section of individuals who don’t have health insurance,” Stevens said. “There is a stigma around not having health insurance, so some people are scared to go get the vaccine through hospitals.”

Coralville Food Pantry volunteers, vaccine administrators, and Spanish, French, Arabic, and Swahili language translators gathered at the Coralville Public Library on Thursday to give out the COVID-19 vaccine and will continue to do so on Friday.

“We tried to set up everything in a way that is going to make people come in and be efficient and feel comfortable,” Coralville Food Pantry Programs & Communications Coordinator Paola Jaramillo Guayara said.

Over the course of this Thursday and Friday, about 570 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be given out, Jaramillo Guayara said.

Food Pantry volunteers and translators will help those receiving the vaccine to fill out consent forms when they check in and make sure they understand everything that’s going on, Jaramillo Guayara said.

Johnson County Public Health connected the Coralville Food Pantry with a vaccine provider, NuCara Pharmacy.

RELATED: UI opens vaccine sign-up to employees as eligibility expands statewide

The doses given to vaccination clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies are allocated by Johnson County Public Health or are distributed from the federal government, Johnson County Community Health Manager Sam Jarvis wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan.

“They’ve been really great in working with nonprofits and organizations around town that work with vulnerable populations,” Jaramillo Guayara said.

Johnson County Public Health Educator Susan Vileta said some individuals don’t have the access to vaccinations or are internet savvy to schedule an appointment online.

“Everyone has a different level of comfort, and it’s easier for them to exchange information because they already have a relationship with those groups,” Vileta said.

Vileta said the possibilities are endless to schedule a vaccine clinic in Johnson County depending on what time of day and how many individuals will be vaccinated.

“If we’re not there connecting these organizations like the food pantries and the senior centers of Coralville, a lot of those folks get left behind,” Vileta said. “Whether they have transportation barriers, whether they’re not trusting of healthcare, they want to go because they trust their food pantry.”

The Coralville Food Pantry will replicate the first vaccination clinic to provide the second dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine on April 29 and 30, Jaramillo Guayara said.

“It had always been our intention to do on-site vaccination clinics,” Jaramillo Guayara said. “We wanted to make sure that we provided the vaccine in a way that was equitable. That is something that’s really important to us and that we strive for, especially in a situation like this.

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