He has watched thousands of faces for 15 minutes at a time. He has answered questions and calmed nerves.
“To me, this is my call of duty to my community,” said Julian Ospina. “We know that this is a very devastating virus that has taken many lives. So, I wanted to put my part in to help my community.”
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The U.S. Navy Veteran signed up to volunteer the second the site opened.
“I was driving down the street and I saw the tent come up and I knew that they were going to open a vaccination supercenter,” said Ospina. “I’ve been here since they opened up. I’m here from open to close every day until the tent goes down.”
He found his way to the observation area where people sit for 15 minutes after getting their vaccine. Ospina and the other volunteers keep an eye on everyone to make sure there are no side effects.
He also entertains the crowd, which can be on edge at times.
“It makes you feel good,” he said from behind a black cloth mask. “That’s what we want. We want people to come in here and have a good experience.”
Ospina found a little humor goes a long way to settle the nerves. He makes little jokes about going to casinos and a celebratory drink while giving them solid information about a second vaccine, what they can do when they get home, and how to spread the word.
“That is the main goal: to reassure them that this is a good thing,” he said.
It helps that the veteran is well-equipped to handle the room.
“I am a paramedic and I also have degrees in psychiatric rehab. So, I knew that I could use those combined to help people here,” said the humble PhD -- yes, Dr. Julian Ospina.
“I want them to leave here well-informed, that they have the information that they need, and that they understand this vaccine is safe; that it is a good thing.”
He said he intended to volunteer every hour of every day until the virus is gone.
“At the end of the day, we’re all trying to do our best for our community. It takes a village to save a village,” Ospina said. “I’m not going to sit around and be a spectator.”