Translated by Mark Wan
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 23, 2020, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. Fifteen months later, with the COVID-19 public vaccination rate reaching targeted levels, the governor subsequently ordered Washington State to be fully reopened on June 30, 2021.
The rate of vaccination for the Washington population had reached 55%, with the Seattle area attaining upwards of 70%. Still, the government hoped to enhance the rate further and encouraged everyone above age 12 to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Tzu Chi USA Northwest Region’s Seattle Branch joined the effort, offering an outdoor vaccination event on July 6, less than a week after the state reopened.
The Tzu Chi Seattle Branch provided the vaccination service in collaboration with ICHS (International Community Health Services). ICHS is a nonprofit community health center that offers affordable health care to Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and other underserved communities in Seattle and King County. Tzu Chi volunteers and ICHS staff worked side-by-side to prepare for the event.
Lǜzhi Lu, a Tzu Chi volunteer who also works at ICHS, initiated this event. Seeing no sign of a vaccination station near Chinese communities, she took it upon herself as a liaison between ICHS and Tzu Chi Seattle to jointly set up this community service.
Since vaccination was now open for anyone 12-year-old and above, Kangyan Peng brought her two children to the event. Her daughter Jieyu, aged 12, got the shot, although her son, only seven, didn’t qualify. Still, he stayed on the sidelines, cheering his sister on to give her courage. Although a little nervous before the injection, Jieyu said she felt great after it, confident that it would help protect against the virus. And, her brother’s loving encouragement indeed made her feel braver while touching the hearts of the medical staff and volunteers attending to the family.
But it wasn’t only parents bringing their children who came, nor people from underserved cultural minorities. Lari Larimer and Rodney Kinney, who reside near the Tzu Chi Seattle Branch office, noticed the sign announcing the vaccination service on their drive home and stopped by.
Thrilled to get the shots so close to home, they thanked the medical staff and volunteers for serving the community in this way, providing COVID-19 vaccines in such a comfortable and relaxed setting.
Once people received their shots, as recommended, they stayed 15 minutes for observation in case of adverse reactions. Tzu Chi volunteers keep them company joyfully during that time, sharing Tzu Chi’s history, philosophy, and global humanitarian missions.
Some of the vaccine recipients didn’t speak English, yet the bubbling enthusiasm of volunteers and medical staff greatly enhanced other means of communication. Moreover, with many people assembled, the chances of multilingual communication increased. Additionally, young Tzu Chi volunteers were on hand to provide Chinese to English translation, which, based on their heritage, they were able to provide.
Everyone serving at the event strove to reduce anxiety while people waited for a shot and during the safety period afterward.
ICHS began to set up provisional vaccination stations three to four times a week since February 2021, covering most communities big or small in and around the Seattle metropolitan area. The non-profit community health center provided vaccination services for those who didn’t get a dose for various reasons, some due to transportation, religion, or nationality.
In these vaccination efforts, Tzu Chi Seattle is thrilled to work closely with ICHS, offering the branch office as the venue and considerately arranging the service time between 5:00 to 8:00 PM, allowing those getting off work from their day jobs the opportunity to attend. Together, as partners, Tzu Chi USA and ICHS have reached deep into the communities they serve, bringing timely benefits.
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