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Through community effort, Guadalupe has given COVID-19 vaccines to nearly half of its residents

6,600 people live in Guadalupe. 70% are Latino and 30% are part of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. The town has aggressively worked to get 44% of all residents vaccinated.

GUADALUPE, Ariz. — The small town of Guadalupe is outpacing the Arizona's COVID-19 vaccination rate, despite having far fewer resources.

So far, 36% of Arizonans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but in Guadalupe, that number is 44%.

Wedged between Interstate 10 and Tempe, 6,631 people live in the small town that measures less than one square mile.

According to the latest Census data, 70% of its residents are Latino and the other 30% are Native American, part of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.

The town’s Vice Mayor Ricardo Vital was born and raised in Guadalupe and is also a Tribe administrator. When the pandemic hit, the fight to combat the deadly virus in his community was personal.

In June, Guadalupe became a hot spot. Since then, Vital says they’ve “seen a lot of [their] community members pass away because of COVID.”

Given the town’s size and limited resources, Vital said he knew they needed help to aggressively stop the spread of the virus and help to get the vaccinations into people's arms once they arrived.

On March 10, the town organized the first of three vaccination drive-thru events, partnering with Native Health, Arizona State University and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.

“Without those partnerships, we wouldn’t be able to do half of the stuff we’ve been doing so far,” Vital said.

The town handled the large-scale event frin Chicanos Por La Causa with the help of the University of Arizona’s mobile unit and has organized two smaller vaccination efforts at the town’s Mercado.

“Originally, we had planned for 60 [people]; the actual day of the event, we did 100,” said Renato Ramos, the programs’ supervisor.

Ramos said they assisted elderly residents who couldn’t navigate the state’s website or who had language barriers.

“We were able to follow up in a more personal way with those individuals,” Ramos added.

Among those vaccinated were Cristina Fragoso and her family. They own a café restaurant inside the Mercado. 

She said it was vital they received their dose in order to be able to work without fear of being fully exposed.

“We feel good and thankful to have received the vaccine,” said Fragoso.

Town leaders are planning another drive-thru event on May 8 in hopes of increasing vaccination numbers.

The first come, first serve event will take place at the Pascua Yaqui Tribe headquarters at 9405 S Avenida del Yaqui in Guadalupe from 6 a.m. to noon.

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