Meeting People Where They Are: ASIA Ohio

In the spring of 2021, when recommendations for COVID-19 vaccination were expanded beyond higher risk populations, many eligible adults in Ohio tried to get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they were available to them. However, many others facing language barriers and other challenges were not getting vaccinated as quickly.

That’s when organizations like Asian Services in Action (ASIA) stepped in. ASIA is a health and human services agency serving the Asian American/Pacific Islander community of northeast Ohio. ASIA’s International Community Health Center partnered with the Cleveland Department of Public Health, Cleveland Department of Aging, and Cove City Church to host a pop-up vaccination site in “AsiaTown,” an area of low English-speaking proficiency just a few blocks east of downtown Cleveland.

The first of two ASIA pop-up vaccination events took place on Sunday, April 18, 2021, when more than 200 people received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Cove City Church. ASIA Chief Executive Officer Elaine Tso said, “translators were available at the clinics, or a phone call away, for 55 different languages and dialects.” The church is within walking distance for many residents who live in AsiaTown, which made it more convenient for them to get vaccinated. The day for people to receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine fell on May 9, 2021, which was Mother’s Day. ASIA and its partners promoted a pop-up clinic as a Mother’s Day event for people to come with their families. Many AsiaTown residents brought their mothers to receive the vaccine, and families who received vaccines together celebrated with a special photo at the site. For the two pop-up vaccination events, nearly 400 people were fully vaccinated.

In addition to the challenges of a language barrier and transportation, lack of childcare can also be an obstacle preventing adults from getting vaccinated.  However, having the pop-up vaccination event on a Sunday helped. Tso said, “I watched multiple baby strollers and toddlers while their moms were getting vaccinated.”

ASIA remains committed to COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The organization’s International Community Health Center provides vaccines and testing in Cleveland and Akron. Tso emphasizes ASIA’s determination to help protect people – “We don’t vaccinate just for ourselves, we vaccinate for our family, friends, and neighbors. When we strive together for immunity, we protect our community and show our love to the important people in our lives.”

Photos from ASIA Ohio's pop up vaccine event

Read more about the work of ASIA to serve the community of northeast Ohio on the Partnering for Vaccine Equity "Stories from the Field" page.

Federal funding for this project is supported through cooperative agreement 1 NH23IP922652-01-00 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) totaling $25,660,048 with 100 percent funding from CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government