Rush to close vaccination gap for Hispanics

Venus Gins, president and founder Da de la Mujer Latina in Texas, stated that the system was not designed to work for her. This is just lip service. There's a lot going on right now. Yet, communities of color continue to suffer.According to data from 40 states, 38 percent of Hispanics had received at least one Covid shot. This compares to 46 percent for whites. According to federal data, this gap has been closing. Hispanics account for around 30 percent of all shots given in the past two weeks. However, health care advocates fear that it may take months to close the gap.Hispanics are more likely to be vaccinated than any other racial or ethnic group, according to polls. KFF released a survey last month that found Hispanics who were not vaccinated were twice as likely as Blacks and whites to want to get their shots as soon as they can. People may be afraid of missing work or being billed unexpectedly for a shot. Transport is still a major barrier in rural areas.Robb Cowie, spokesperson for Oregon Health Authority, stated that they are not seeing the same hardened resistance in the white community. I have a few jobs, care for my children, and the challenges make it difficult to get a vaccine.Biden's administration has made a lot of statements about its efforts to address equity. It stated that it is focused on running a strong and culturally competent vaccination campaign for Hispanic communities. This will emphasize shots are safe and effective, and is free. The Biden administration recently formed a partnership to send vaccine information to Spanish speakers through WhatsApp. It has been distributing vaccine information via the airwaves to doctors and Spanish-speaking officials in the administration, as well as working with local groups to counter misinformation.We are seeing more Hispanics vaccinated because of our efforts in engagement, access, digital and media," stated Kevin Munoz, White House spokesperson. We will keep pushing for more vaccinations, but there is still much to do.However, local groups claim that officials have been left behind by early mistakes in vaccine rollout.The mass vaccination sites were staffed by uniformed National Guard officers and law enforcement personnel. Some undocumented immigrants were hesitant to visit these locations because they required identification. Some have been unable to get vaccinated due to misinformation about immigration enforcement. This may be partly due to lingering concerns over Trump's strict policies. According to a survey by the African American Research Collaborative (and the Commonwealth Fund) this month, one-third of unvaccinated Hispanics believed that receiving the Covid vaccine would make it more difficult for them or their family to obtain immigration status.Advocates said that Spanish official information was not always readily available and sometimes poorly translated. Many people believed that even though they were free, some states required proof of insurance. These myths have been circulated via social media as well as other misconceptions about vaccine side effects. Many people spoke out to say that Johnson & Johnson's shot was linked with rare, but serious blood clots. This raised fears about the safety of the vaccine.A pop-up vaccination site displays the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. Mary Altaffer/AP PhotoThis complicates matters further: The CDC has only information on race and ethnicity for approximately 62 percent nationwide who have had at least one shot. It makes it difficult to track how communities of colour are doing.Advocates and local health officials are changing their messages and tactics. They are heavily relying on partnerships with partners such as churches, health centers, and community workers to reach those who are not vaccinated. Although they acknowledged that they may not win every day the support of some people, the time they spend with communities to address their concerns is essential for increasing vaccination rates.We had a wave before, Laura Parajn, New Mexico's deputy health secretary, stated. It was easy to set up a vaccination center. We are now going door to door, one community at a time.Although the new efforts are making a difference, it wasn't easy. Gabe Sanchez, who is the head of the University of New Mexico Center for Social Policy, stated that the center has been working closely with the state department of health.La Union del Pueblo Entero, a non-profit community organization, helped to set up vaccination clinics in Texas for farmers and undocumented immigrant workers. They also contracted with a private security company to prevent the appearance that law enforcement was standing guard at the door. Gins, a Houston-based community health worker, works to improve the translation of government websites. California state officials helped establish mobile clinics in rural areas. Made to Save, a vaccine equity group, and other groups work with the Biden administration to distribute grants to community organizations in over 30 states to increase vaccinations in communities of colour.Some of the problems that plagued early efforts are now gone. Recent shifts away from mass vaccination sites to more targeted efforts have allowed for greater resources to be directed to local communities. New Mexico is one example. It has used nearly $40 million to hire hundreds of community health workers and increased its door-to-door efforts. Oregon recently established a Spanish-language phone line to answer questions about the vaccine, and hosted events for seasonal farm workers from migrant countries.Carlos Marentes, who is involved in vaccination efforts for Border Network for Human Rights El Paso, Texas said that many Hispanics he spoke with about vaccines felt neglected. They don't feel as comfortable visiting a large health facility and avoid mass vaccination sites. Marentes stated that he stresses that the shot can protect them and their families in these conversations. This message seems to resonate especially with younger adults, who might not feel an urgency.Many people who have attended vaccination events say, "I'm here because my mother said so, or my wife is afraid I will spread Covid-19 to my family," he said.