Providing a safe and culturally competent environment to deliver the COVID-19 vaccines could be the difference between Latinos getting vaccinated or not. UnidosUS Affiliates throughout the country are working to ensure our communities, the ones that have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, both in infection and death rates, are informed about the safety and necessity of getting the COVID-19 vaccines. In Wilmington, Delaware, the Latin American Community Center has hosted four vaccination clinics so far; in Los Angeles, Clínica Romero opened a vaccination site for senior residents; in San Rafael, California , Canal Alliance is vaccinating the elderly, health care workers, and essential workers; in Chicago, Latino Policy Forum is bringing awareness about the inequities of the vaccine distribution.By Beatriz Paniego-Béjar, Content Specialist, UnidosUS
COVID-19 vaccination clinics are opening all over the country. At a vaccination rate of more than two million doses per day, the United States is working fast to ensure we reach herd immunity by the summer. For that, an equitable distribution of the vaccines is necessary, and the work of UnidosUS Affiliates is crucial in this task.
“PRACTICING WHAT WE PREACH”
The woman in the picture is 98 years old. She was one of the 93 seniors part of the first vaccination cohort at the Manuelita Olson Building that the Latin American Community Center (LACC) has been providing since January. LACC has organized these free events where community members 65 and older are able to get their first and second COVID-19 shots “in a safe, culturally competent way,” the team at this UnidosUS Affiliate shares.
As LACC explains, these seniors arrived at the vaccination clinic positive, optimistic, with a big smile under their masks: “We could see that,” says Laura Adarve, Director of Prevention and Advocacy at LACC. “Clients came into our first vaccination event thanking us profusely for bringing the vaccine to them. ‘Con Dios, todo se puede,’ one woman said to me. They have put their faith in God and in science.” They are now looking forward to better days to come.
Located in Wilmington, Delaware, LACC is the only Latinx-serving organization in the northern half of the state. “Our name is recognized among community members as a safe and culturally competent place,” says Adarve. That has placed this organization in a unique position to serve, and with great social responsibility to lead.
“We cannot ask of our community what we do not expect of ourselves, and from the beginning of the pandemic, the LACC has been working feverishly to make sure that we were ‘practicing what we preach,’ by being safe ourselves. Now, that work turns to advocating in favor of vaccinations to eradicate the vaccine hesitancy that exists in our community,” Adarve continues. Seeing and hearing that vaccines are safe and necessary to get back to the moments we miss the most from people who look and sound like them, “legitimizes the safety of the vaccine, which is paramount in a community that has endured unethical treatment in the past.”
Working with partners in the region, LACC is committed to combat the inequities in access to the vaccines our communities of color face. “We are well-equipped [for that] and we will continue to work with all of our partners to make the process as seamless as possible to maximize impact, especially among the most vulnerable individuals,” Adarve explains.
In California, UnidosUS Affiliate Clínica Msr. Oscar A. Romero (Clínica Romero) is also working with partners in Los Angeles county to increase access to vaccines for California’s Black and Latino residents.
In February, after weeks of waiting, this Affiliate received only 100 doses for their 12,000 patients. Seeing the inequities in the distribution of the vaccines, Clínica Romero advocated against the obstacles that are allowing that inequitable distribution, and this week, they made a big stride.
In collaboration with Hilda Solis, member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for the 1st district, the Mexican Consulate and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Clínica Romero was able to vaccinate 500 patients from their underserved and low-income clients. “This is a great step towards ending vaccine inequality in our communities,” expressed Carlos Vaquerano, their Executive Director.
We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Hilda Solis , Consulado General de Mexico & Los Angeles County…
OFFERING MORE ACCESS
UnidosUS Affiliate Latino Policy Forum in Chicago, Illinois, raises concerns about why Latinos are the least vaccinated in spite of being one of the groups most infected. “The premise that a vaccine being available means that it is equally available to everyone is simply wrong,” writes Noreen Sugrue, Director of Research at Latino Policy Forum.
There is a lack of consideration about factors such as: scheduling a vaccine appointment, which is overly dependent on Internet and computer access, as well as some kind of computer knowledge; making an appointment that doesn’t conflict with work schedules and that is geographically convenient; and having the time to actually navigate the site to make the appointment, which in some instances are poorly translated into Spanish for those who prefer that language.
“We must offer access and opportunities to Latinos to secure the vaccine with minimal disturbance to the times they are working or caretaking,” Sugrue says. “Moreover, we must offer linguistically and culturally appropriate access to appointments. Nobody should be required to have a computer and internet access to secure a vaccine that will save their life.”
To overcome some of those challenges, UnidosUS Affiliate Canal Alliance in San Rafael, California, is offering in-person registration for their new vaccine clinics in collaboration with the Marin Health and Human Services:
Vacunas de COVID-19 disponibles en Marin Community Clinics para residentes y trabajadores elegibles del Canal:
This Affiliate has also been at the forefront to help our communities bear the brunt of the pandemic, from access to economic relief, to setting up polling stations during the election season, to COVID-19 education, to informing about testing sites and now offering a vaccination clinic.
As UnidosUS continues to ensure a response to the pandemic that is appropriate, this organization, together with our Affiliates and partners, are committed to using all our assets to promote vaccine awareness, confidence, and acceptance among the Latino community. Stay tuned to our social media channels in @WeAreUnidosUS for upcoming updates and information.