We went to a vaccine pop-up event. People had a lot to say.

This far into the pandemic, what’s changing people’s minds?
4 min. read
A mobile vaccine clinic sits in parking lot near the intersection of Chambers Road and Colfax Avenue in Aurora. July 23, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Cynthia Martir didn't take her chance at getting the COVID-19 vaccine for granted. Doctors administered her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on July 23 at a mobile clinic stationed in an Aurora parking lot. Getting the jab didn't even hurt, the 13-year-old said. The hard part was getting there in the first place.

"I've been fighting with my mom to get my vaccination for over two months," Martir said. "So today, I thought I would step up to the plate and tell my mom how I felt."

Martir's mother is a conspiracy theorist and believes the vaccine is the biblical mark of the beast -- a government attempt at mind-controlling the populace. But Martir's grandmother, Sharon Carter, doesn't agree. Carter, who is visiting from San Diego, agreed to bring her granddaughter to the mobile clinic.

She's proud Martir is standing up for herself. "She spoke up, and it's the truth," she said. "She wants to live."

Martir and her grandmother, who is already vaccinated, will be back in August for a second dose.

Cynthia Martir stands with her grandmother, Sharon Carter, after she got a COVID-19 shot at a mobile clinic at Chambers Road and Colfax Avenue in Aurora. July 23, 2021.

The line moved quickly as pairs of friends, family members and the occasional passer-by dropped in to grab a clipboard and sign up for either the two-shot Pfizer or singe dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Across the parking lot, food trucks were parked, serving Mexican, Honduran and Colombian dishes alongside pop-up bazaars displaying sundresses.

After weeks of news coverage about the state's new vaccine buses and incentives like $100 Walmart vouchers, big lotteries and community college scholarships, we wanted to see what's actually driving people now to get vaccinated. More than 70 percent of adults in Colorado have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, so, months later, who's being convinced? And what changed?

For a lot of people we spoke to, their hesitancy to get a vaccine had been worn down by increased access, peer pressure, and, sometimes, the available $100-dollar Walmart vouchers.

Giordan Thompson was exiting Vasa Fitness when he saw the mobile clinic. He'd been debating getting a vaccine for a few months but was hesitant because of side effects. Ultimately, his tipping point came at the dentist's office.

"They asked me if I was vaccinated, and I told them that I wasn't," he said. "It kind of made me feel bad, and we started talking about vaccines and which one to get."

Giordan Thompson waits in line at a mobile vaccine clinic at Chambers Road and Colfax Avenue in Aurora. July 23, 2021.

For others, the vaccine brought the promise of a return to "normal" life.

"I'm traveling to Nashville for a big convention through my office in a couple of weeks," Dee Jennings told us while waiting in line. "I just felt like it was finally time to get the vaccine."

She said some of her unvaccinated family members had gotten COVID-19 in the past.

"There's a lot of people who feel very strongly against it, and I get that it's scary. It's new, it hasn't been out long," she said. "But I feel like we're seeing more and more that folks that are getting the vaccine are more protected."

That's true. Nearly every single person now hospitalized with COVID in Colorado is unvaccinated.

Angela Sullivan brought her children, Keionae and Q.r.vae, with her.

"I'm still nervous," she admitted. "Mainly about side effects." Sullivan has multiple sclerosis, asthma and congestive heart failure. The vaccine is her best chance at protection, and she urged Keionae and Q.r.vae, aged 14 and 19, to get theirs as well.

Angela Sullivan waits in line at a mobile vaccine clinic in Aurora with her kids, Keionae and Q.r.vae. July 23, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Thirteen-year-old Kehara Chale came all the way from Mexico to get her vaccine. She said children under 18 are not yet eligible to get vaccinated there. She's been staying with her aunt in Colorado for about a month now.

"Now that I'm vaccinated, I'll feel safer being out, and when I return to school, I don't have to be worried about getting infected by the virus," Chale said in Spanish.

Kehara Chale just got a COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile clinic in Aurora. July 23, 2021.

For more resources on where to get vaccinated (or to get that Walmart voucher), click on this link.

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