FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. — With vaccine hesitancy leading many to hold out on getting a COVID-19 vaccine shot, health providers like Dr. Chelsea Nguyen are bringing vaccines to communities.

“A lot of it is they’re afraid. When they come to us, they’d ask, 'Did you get the vaccine?'” said Dr. Nguyen.

What You Need To Know

  • 360 Clinic, the official COVID-19 testing partner for the Orange County Health Department, is joining California’s statewide vaccine provider network

  • 360 Clinic is offering anyone who qualifies under the Federal Cares Act, even those without insurance, free COVID-19 vaccination

  • With Blue Shield’s support, 360 Clinic will roll out vaccine distribution services to 20 of the 40+ existing 360 Clinic sites within largely underserved and underinsured areas 

  • Led by physicians who come from immigrant families, 360 Clinic also prides itself on retaining multilingual staff and nurses who can bridge communication gaps

Nguyen is the director of clinical operations for 360 Clinic, which helped the County of Orange perform about 400,000 coronavirus tests. Now, the clinic is adding vaccinations to its services. The team launched multiple mobile vaccination vans to roll into neighborhoods that are in need of doses.

“OK. I’ll help you, sister and brother,” said Nguyen to a Vietnamese patient and her partner who stepped up for their appointment.  

Nguyen was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the U.S. when she was 7. She speaks Vietnamese fluently, a skill that allows her to break the language barrier when necessary.

“I can only put myself in their shoes and when I think of my mom, my dad, my aunt and my uncle going to anywhere and there’s someone there that speaks Vietnamese,” said Nguyen.

Asian and Pacific Islanders make up about 21% of Orange County’s population. The Hispanic and Latino community makes up about 35% of the county’s population, but only about 10% of that group has been vaccinated, while half of the AAPI community has received their shots.

Nguyen says 360 Clinic strategically chose 20 different sites like the one in Fountain Valley on top of driving into what are considered hard-to-reach areas because patients are juggling multiple jobs or speak little to no English.

“If we’re able to talk to the patients in their own native tongue, it’s easier to answer any questions and concerns that they might have,” said Nguyen. 

She says patients are hesitant to get the vaccine because they are receiving misinformation and don’t know how to express their concerns in English.

“For example in my family, my aunt if she says I got vaccinated and I’m OK, then everybody else is going to get vaccinated. So we hope that it’s similar in that instance where you’re more likely to listen to your family than someone else than from someone that’s outside. So we’re just hoping people will spread the word,” said Nguyen.

She says being able to work with communities on the ground has made this experience working during the pandemic rewarding. Nguyen wants to help 360 Clinic build trust and curb the impact of the virus on communities that she considers close to home.