AURORA, Colo. — They may be in high school, but it's not stopping students at Rangeview High School from taking taking action.
"It really makes you think. That means your voice and your actions have a lot of power. It’s one idea that can evolved into something bigger," said student Josh Alvarez.
Yeabsera Fitsum and Alvarez were juniors this year at Rangeview. They are also members of the Rangeview Social Justice Club, a student group responsible for vaccinating hundreds of people in their community.
"I think the whole purpose is Rangeview is home for all of us. Students feel safe here, and I feel like with the ethnic and diverse community it’s safer for us to go to a place we all know and love," explained Fitsum about the large turnout for vaccinations.
The idea came from Alvarez who wanted to get his family and friends vaccinated. He took that thought to teacher and club advisor, Stephanie Walsh, who applied through the state to host a vaccine equity clinic at Rangeview.
"When we were putting it on and they registered it through the Colorado Department of Health and we just advertised it," said Walsh.
They received approval, and on May 1, 422 people were vaccinated inside the school. Governor Jared Polis even made an appearance.
Brandy Emily, deputy director Immunization Branch for CDPHE tells Denver7:
"Vaccines are our ticket out of this pandemic, and we want all eligible Coloradans to get vaccinated -- it’s the fastest way for us to return to the lives we love. We’re starting to see population-level protection from these vaccines resulting in decreased transmission, but we still have a ways to go.
We applaud organizations trying to find ways to increase our vaccination rate. While we are unsure whether this club is the first of its kind to help organize a vaccine clinic, it is encouraging to see young people like those in the Rangeview High Social Justice Club get involved to help bring these effective and life-saving vaccines to their community. We appreciate their on-site volunteer help during the clinic and their enthusiasm for creating this opportunity.”
The school's second vaccine drive was on May 22 and had an even better turnout. Four hundred and eighty six received either their first or second dose that day. Both Fitsum And Alvarez were among them, so were their families.
"The fact I could bring my family along and ease their worries and get vaccinated with me is really special," said Alvarez.