Internship for Fresno Unified students helping give information on COVID vaccine

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As the pandemic continues, Genoveva Islas with Cultiva La Salud says they've noticed how important it is to adjust their target audience.

She says at one point, it was about helping everyone minimize their risk of exposure, then about getting the elderly vaccinated. Now, they're focused on reaching kids and teens who are eligible for the shots.

"The idea was how do we create a squad of youth that can help us in doing education, outreach and encouraging their peers to also be vaccinated," Islas said.

A group they're a part of, the "Immigrant Refugee Coalition" partnered with Fresno Unified School District to create paid internships for students.

The mission of those interns is to provide information about COVID-19, vaccine events and much more to their families, communities, and most of all, peers.

"As we line up more vaccine clinics tied to schools, the promoters will play a really key role in helping to reach other teens in other school sites," Islas said.

Seven students were selected for the "Jr Community Health Workers Internship." One of them is Gisel Gonzalez, a junior at Mclane High School.

She says there was a lot of training to prepare the interns so they can speak in front of classmates in addition to handing out flyers and taking part in other outreach efforts. Gonzalez thinks about her little sister when spreading this message...

"You have to think there are younger siblings and kids in schools who can't get the vaccine," she said. "So you have to think about them and the community so they are not at risk."

Islas believes this opportunity is a win-win situation.

"I think that is how we help to build pipelines of opportunity is by supporting their academic attainment but creating these real-world experiences for them that position them for success," Islas said.

It's yet to be decided if the internship will be one semester or one school year, but students will receive school credit.

Cultiva La Salud is hosting a vaccination clinic targeting youth Monday, and Gonzalez says they've been busy helping spread the word.
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