covid-19 vaccine

Latinos and the COVID-19 Vaccine: A Look at Why More Are Not Getting Vaccinated

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We have shared their stories of grief and loss.

Families ripped apart after losing loved ones to COVID-19.

We know Latino Texans have been disproportionately impacted by coronavirus.

Data shows, the number of Hispanics opting to get the COVID-19 vaccine is lagging.

Only 17% in the state have been immunized, despite representing about 38% of the population.

There’s a similar story in Dallas County where Hispanics make up about 40% of the population.

Only about 16% have been vaccinated against the virus, compared to 38% of white people.

NBC 5 and our sister station Telemundo 39, teamed up to delve into why this is, what’s being done about it and how everyone is impacted.

This vibrant community of family-oriented people comprised a significant number of so-called essential workers who have continued to labor during the pandemic, despite an invisible enemy that continues to threaten and take lives.

But for many, a vial promising strong protection against COVID-19 is out of reach or suspect.

Prisma Garcia wants to bridge the divide.

“It’s definitely going to be education,” she said.

Risking her own health, the community volunteer is hitting the streets of her neighborhood: Pleasant Grove.

“I probably talked to probably 70 or close to 100 people today,” she said proudly.

With a tablet in hand, Garcia walked from car to car at a food distribution line asking residents if they need help registering for the county’s waitlist.

“Some people don’t want the vaccine,” she said.

The why is as complex as the community.

Yes, there are those who fear deportation. The Department of Homeland Security even released a statement assuring people ICE and Border Patrol will not conduct enforcement operations at or near federal vaccination sites, like Fair Park. Those eligible are urged to be vaccinated, regardless of their legal status, stated DHS.

But other barriers persist.

“So many people my age don’t know how to go on the computers and register,” said Alice Bones who was registering for her vaccine.

There are those who do not drive.

“Just a lot of people are scared or afraid to speak English,” said Marylu Avila.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle: mistrust.

“I’m not going to get no shot because I don’t know what it’s going to do to you, what it’s going to do to me,” said an uninterested Pedro Barbosa to Garcia in the food line.

A frustrated Perla Sanchez-Perez has seen the virus’ impact firsthand.

“There’s nothing to think about: it’s either death or you get this vaccine,” said Perez. “The majority of the patients at Parkland Hospital, I would say more than 95% of them are Latino.

The COVID-19-Unit nurse was the first to receive the vaccine at Parkland in December and is pleading for her community to trust the science.

So too, is UT Southwestern Dr. Mayra Jimenez Thompson who lost four family members to coronavirus.

Thompson says if the number of Latinos vaccinated against COVID-19 does not increase, “We are most at risk of spreading the disease among ourselves.”

Access to the vaccine must also improve.

City council member Jaime Resendez has held Spanish-language panels and registration drives in his Southeast Dallas district, identified among the most vulnerable for COVID-19 cases and deaths.

The region was overlooked too, during the early vaccination rollout.

Even now, it only has a few local vaccination sites available.

Resendez says he would support mobile vaccination sites for hard-hit areas.

“I would be a champion for something like that,” he said.

It is important to keep in mind that the state does not require proof of residents to receive a vaccine.

Meaning, you can travel far and wide to get vaccinated.

Also, a significant percentage of people have opted to not share their ethnicity at vaccination hubs.

This means the number of Latinos getting vaccinated against COVID-19 could be even lower or higher.

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