Street fairs and festivals like Pittsburg’s 620 Day and the Art Walk often feature pop-up vendors such as art stalls and food trucks but after the COVID-19 pandemic, a new station has become part of the traditions.
On Sunday, Jun. 20, the downtown area of Pittsburg (approximately from 4th Street to 6th Street) hosted 620 Day, a street fair-type festival celebrating Pittsburg as a whole. The name comes from Pittsburg’s area code 620. The festival featured a variety of food trucks such as the Blue Spoon specializing in macaroni and cheese variants as well as art stalls and live music performances. Some of the acts that performed included Jacob Anselmi & Tim Dawsey, known as Troubadours Then & Now, Joey Pogue, and Bill & Monica’s Excellent Adventure. The 620 Day Festival was organized by the Downtown Advisory Board.
As part of an effort to both increase COVID-19 vaccinations and increase awareness about adult immunizations, vaccine compliance coordinator Kimberly Whitaker and other staff members of the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC of SEK) set up a pop-up vaccination clinic offering the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost.
“Science can be a little scary for those that don’t understand it..,” Whitaker said. “We’re out here primarily to increase awareness about adult immunizations. Many people don’t realize that there are still reasons to get shots in your arm when you’re an adult. We have an entire team now dedicated to adult vaccinations and our mission is to take that on the road. Rather than rely on people to come into the clinic and ask about their vaccines, we come out to things like this so people are coming up and asking us about other things that we can throw in there as part of the conversation. We have this survey that anyone can fill out and we can look up their shot records. We have access to vaccination records in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. We can look them up and see what we can find for them and compile it into one record so they can see where they’re at. If it looks like they need anything, we can send them information. We really want to just increase education so that adults know that we keep vaccinating past childhood…”
Whitaker also encouraged those hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine to seek out credible sources of information from government websites and accredited scientific organizations.
“The first question I ask when someone tells me something about the vaccine is ‘Where did you read that?’ and if they say, ‘Facebook,’ I’ve got to discredit that,” Whitaker said. “The vaccine is completely safe and the data we have suggests that… We have to research it, we have to debunk it when we hear it… There is, of course, the new ‘Delta variant’ of the coronavirus but the thing to remember is that all coronaviruses have a unique signature. The vaccines we have train your body to fight that signature, so it works well against any coronavirus…”
Whitaker also mentioned that CHC of SEK was planning on doing back to school vaccine drives as the FDA begins approving COVID-19 vaccines for younger groups as well as getting students their usual immunizations.