COVID vaccine info pop-up encourages vaccination for rural Big Country residents

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STAMFORD, Texas – The third tour of a partnership between the Department of State Health Services and Walmart came to an end Monday. Vaccine advocates fielding some questions from rural residents who may be hesitant to get their COVID-19 vaccine in an area DSHS detected needed a “push” for more people to vaccinate.

The pop-up in the Walmart parking lot sported a selfie wall, basketball toss, and prize spin wheel on the side in which all traffic enters the lot. On the other, a theater-sized screen shared information on the vaccine from state and local health officials as well as testimony from Texans who got their shot or survived COVID.

Robert Santiago, outreach manager for the Stamford pop-up, has been apart of the initiative which had it’s first tour in the spring – hitting as many as 21 Texas cities in 21 days. He says this third tour was more of a targeted effort, visiting areas that had lower vaccination rates.

“This third time around we’re targeting zip codes that need a little bit more encouragement,” said Santiago.

The screen and pop up were hard to ignore, drawing the attention of shopper Royce Barkman. He says he has been vaccinated since last spring but is happy to see the state reaching out to locals on their own asphalt.

“We’ve had a lot of friends who died from it early on,” said Burkman. “I think it’s really encouraging, it’s nice to see them here out in the community.”

Also making note of the screen was shopper Julie Villanueva who says while she has no plans to become vaccinated, she has no issue with information on the vaccine to be shown in such large scale to the public.

“It’s interesting, informative,” said Villanueva.

Santiago says starting civil conversations on the vaccine is just the first step in getting more rural Texans protected against COVID-19. He stresses that all residents, not just those dwelling in cities, must ask themselves if getting vaccinated is the right choice for them.

“I’ve had some wonderful conversations with people who are simply against the vaccine and it’s been very friendly very respectful,” said Santiago. “It’s a decision each one of us has to make for ourselves.”

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