Transport, translation and a reliable source of vaccine information has been one of the obstacles, but public health activists and a new initiative are working to overcome it.
The El Milagro Clinic in McAllen, Texas has been instrumental in ensuring that patients receive accurate vaccine information and keep their appointments.
Retired laborer Zeferino Cantu is diabetic, has high blood pressure and has no health insurance, but he waited months to get the vaccine. They finally got their first shot at the clinic last week because they are more concerned about the virus than the side effects of the vaccine.
Speaking in Spanish, Cantu told Granthshala that the coronavirus is more dangerous because it can affect everything, even your mental ability.
South Texas, a region with a predominantly Latino population, has been hit hard by the pandemic. And nationally, Latinos have been hit hardest by the pandemic, but have been vaccinated at much lower rates than white Americans. When the COVID-19 vaccine was initially approved, some Latinos were skeptical and worried it would make them sick.
The importance of deep community ties
Sylvia Aguilar knows Cantu well, a retired laborer.
“He always told me I’d come back. I’m not ready,” says the eligibility administrator of the El Milagro clinic.
Several months later, he’s back as a city already hit by the pandemic saw a delta version of the boom like other parts of the US.
Families are getting sick and scared, Aguilar says. They don’t know where to go – a common obstacle here is getting vaccinated for those who need it most.
“I wanted to see other people’s reaction before I got it,” says Juan Manuel Salinas. “If they were okay, I would do it.”
Salinas just got his second shot.
And although the 55-year-old horse racing instructor’s daughter worked at the clinic, it took her months to convince her father to make an appointment and keep her.
“He had all the resources. I’d say do you want me to go pick you up? We do it for free here at the clinic and he’ll say ‘Yeah, I’ll go. I’ll go,’” says Brie Salinas, her daughter and at the clinic A financial manager, say.
On the mission of one lakh vaccinations
“What we hope to achieve is getting the vaccine to the people who are on the fence,” says Agoda. “I call them ‘uneducated but willing’.”
In some communities, concerns about vaccination are not related to the vaccine itself. Some of the common reasons are lack of transportation and fear of missing work.
Agoda explains how the nonprofit partnered with a poultry plant in Georgia to set up a pop-up clinic. Workers were able to get vaccinated on Saturdays and were able to take Sundays off if they had side effects such as fatigue.
The initiative is providing funding for pop-up vaccinations in rural locations like Muniz, Texas, phone lines for community outreach and even helping to organize free rides offered by Uber. has been
Agoda says, “We hear about people who take the bus to and from work every day and they can’t take a day off from work and they really need help with that transportation bottleneck. ”
And for clinics like McAllen’s, persistence and patience work best.
“It gets to the point where employees feel like they’re going to have what looks like a broken record,” says Marisol Rezendez, executive director of the El Milagro Clinic.
“They’ll come around, there are a lot of people who are willing that they don’t have the tools that are information resources.”
Granthshala’s Carolyn Sung contributed to this report.
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