On April 1, 2021, VNA Health Care collaborated with the City of Aurora at the former Carson Pirie Scott location in Fox Valley Mall to launch UnityVax, which further builds upon the success of three of the prior collaborative, equity-focused initiatives – BlackVax, LatinvaX, and Indian Vax Aurora. Linnea Windel, VNA President and CEO and VNA’s vaccination team joined Mayor of Aurora, Richard C. Irvin, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood and DuPage County Health Department at the opening this event. At the time of writing, more than 11,000 Aurorans have been vaccinated so far.
At the end of the press conference, Mayor Richard C. Irvin, rolled up his sleeve and received his own vaccination from VNA Nurse Practitioner, Michelle Sexton FNP-BC and shared the following remarks: “Let us thank VNA for being seemingly everywhere all the time and vaccinating people by the thousands. This is in addition to their other medical life-saving work that they have been doing in Aurora for more than a century. As a Federally Qualified Health Center, VNA Health Care has taken the lead in serving our most vulnerable and underserved populations. VNA does this with the utmost professionalism, patience and care. Linnea and her team never run from a challenge and face the realities of inequity in the health care system head on. Just as they are doing here today at the UnityVax Aurora Vaccination Clinic.”
Linnea Windel, VNA President and CEO expressed VNA’s commitment to serving the most vulnerable and outlined the health disparities faced by people of color which places them at greater risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes. 50% of Hispanics will develop diabetes over the course of their lifetimes, African Americans are 40% more likely to have hypertension than non-Hispanic whites, and Asian Indians are three times more likely to have coronary heart disease than the US general population.
By the end of the day, VNA successfully vaccinated over 900 individuals, helping to further protect public health in the city of Aurora and the community at large. VNA continues its effort to reach underserved communities or communities where vaccine hesitancy is still prevalent as increasing vaccination rates is critical to preventing hospitalization or death due to COVID-19.