Uma Tulsa doubles down on grassroots organizing in the face of Omicron, vaccinates hundreds of Tulsa residents in less than two months

Another life-saving vaccine clinic is scheduled for Feb. 3rd

TULSA – Over the past year and a half COVID-19 has devastated the Tulsa County region, causing more than 150,000 cases and approximately 1,880 deaths. With so much pain and loss, Tulsa-based organization and Made to Save grantee, Uma Tulsa, took action to provide the support their community so urgently needed. 

Along with the economic development training programs and mental health resources that Uma Tulsa is known for offering, the organization added vaccinating local Latino community members to its many initiatives. This vaccine outreach work has proven to be critical as the contagious nature of Omicron has caused a significant spike in new cases and deaths across the Tulsa County region. 

In a report released by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, more than 77,000 new cases were reported and 171 deaths just last week. Tulsa County currently has the highest infection and death rate in Oklahoma, and according to the New York Times Covid Tracker, approximately 1,802 cases per day are being reported in Tulsa County. This marks a 163 percent increase from the average case rate two weeks ago. Since the start of the pandemic, at least 1 in 4 residents have contracted COVID-19.

In response, Uma Tulsa hosted four different vaccine clinics in December and January alone, vaccinating a combined total of 426 people. Since they started doing this work, Uma Tulsa has coordinated and participated in 76 total local vaccine clinics and virtual information sessions. 

Group of residents waiting in line outdoors

Scores of local Tulsa residents line up awaiting their first, second, or booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo: Olivia Landrum)

The last vaccine clinic hosted by Uma Tulsa was on Jan. 18, 2022, at the Tulsa Educare IV, where they vaccinated 53 adults and 48 children and administered 127 flu shots. 

Olivia Landrum, the director of community engagement for Uma Tulsa, credits the success of the vaccine clinic with the various methods used to inform people about the event.

“We promote [vaccine clinics] with the right people. We use radio stations, tv show programs, and influencers from the Tulsa area,” said Landrum. “We also make phone calls and send text messages…the people trust us to support them and answer any questions they have.”

Group of people wearing face masks are lined up outside vaccine clinic

On Jan. 18, 2022, Uma Tulsa vaccinated 131 people, including 48 children. (Photo:  Olivia Landrum)

Building trust in the community has been another key reason for Uma Tulsa’s success in getting hundreds of community members vaccinated. One crucial component of building trust is speaking the same language of any given community. Approximately 71 percent of Hispanic people speak a language other than English at home, so it’s essential that vaccination information be readily available in Spanish.

According to some participants at the clinic, people traveled up to 45 miles to get their vaccine shots. These anecdotes demonstrate the trust that Uma Tulsa has built throughout the state. Because of their credibility as trusted messengers, Uma Tulsa can effectively communicate the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine to many different communities. 

Spanish language flyer advertising free COVID vaccines

Creating flyers translated into Spanish ensures that Spanish-speaking Tulsa residents know how, when, and where to access the COVID-19 vaccine (Image: Olivia Landrum).

“We are bilingual, so if anyone has any questions, we can answer in their language,” Landrum said. “People have the trust to ask anything they want to know about the vaccine.”

Uma Tulsa’s dedication to building trust is paying off, as the number of vaccinated people in the Tulsa County area continues to increase. Their vaccine outreach work has helped increase the number of people who received at least one dose of the vaccine to 74 percent in Tulsa County. Although much progress has been made, the organization believes that there is still much more left to be accomplished. 

“There is still a big need in the community…many people still don’t know [about the vaccine] and are still asking a lot of questions,” Landrum said. “We will always be there to support them.”

Uma Tulsa will follow up on their recent progress and the needs that remain by continuing to host vaccine clinics and events for their community members, including one on Thursday, Feb. 3rd from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM CT at “El Centro” at the New Sanctuary Empowerment Center located 9068A E. 31 St. in Tulsa, Oklahoma. For more information or any other inquiries, please contact Olivia Landrum at [email protected], or visit their website.