MHS vaccine clinic benefits Hispanic community

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO — Montevallo High School and UAB partnered to host a COVID-19 vaccine drive on Sunday, April 11 in the school’s parking lot, targeting members of the local Hispanic community.

Jaye Locks, a Montevallo resident and ambulatory services administrator with UAB, was credited with making the drive a reality, as was Milene Panzica, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher at the school who is also part of a Hispanic cooperative that helps Latino families.

At the drive, a total of 350 people ages 16 to 92 received the first dose of the Pfizer version of the vaccine.

“In looking at the data of who we had vaccinated thus far at UAB, we were really struggling to meet the needs of the Latino population,” Locks said. “There is extreme fear of vaccine hesitancy as well as needs in terms of registration. I know living in this community that there are many Latino families. My children are friends with so many of the Hispanic children, and I felt called to bring it to my own community. I was proud to see that the boys varsity soccer team signed up for vaccine on their own. They challenged others to do their part.”

Leading up to the clinic, an informational meeting was held with the help of ESL teachers to address public concerns with the vaccine. Social media was also used to spread the word. On the day of the event, many Spanish-speaking partners were on hand including several physicians.

“When we do an event like this, a whole army of people plan and prepare to make it successful,” Locks said. “I cannot say enough about the people that make these vaccine sites happen. Working at UAB over the pandemic has created a singular focus for us. That focus is to treat the sick with COVID, and prevent further infection with vaccination. I’m happy to say that we have accomplished both.”

Tena Niven, a teacher and coach at MHS, was glad to see Dr. Lewis Brooks, Shelby County Schools superintendent, volunteering his time to help with the drive.

“He knew the importance of it. He could have been spending that time with his family but he chose to be part of the Montevallo community,” Niven said.

She added people came from Calera, Alabaster and other surrounding areas. While the clinic was focused on the Hispanic population, no one was turned away.

“It was a very successful day,” Niven said.