As we inch closer to the third year of the pandemic, COVID-19 continues to be a threat.
Compared to the height of the pandemic in 2020, there are plenty of data showing positive results on COVID-19 infections and deaths. This is partly due to the collective immunity from previous infections and, of course, the increase in vaccination rates.
However, the Latino population faced unique challenges when it came to getting vaccinated – and some still do. From the lack of information about the vaccines to accessibility factors, it all played a role in how much the Latino community lagged behind other communities.
Throughout the ongoing pandemic, a great majority of the Latino community were deemed essential workers, putting them more at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Thankfully, there have been some local governments working on initiatives to close the COVID-19 vaccination rates gap between Latinos and other populations.
California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Wisconsin are among the states who have recently expanded vaccination access to our communities. Let’s take a look at some of the efforts of these states as they understand the importance of protecting all of their residents.
Nonetheless, there’s still lots of work to be done.
The death rate of COVID-19 patients in California has significantly dropped. However, COVID-19-related deaths continue to be in the top five causes of death in California.
What shifted was the vaccination rates and their protection of people. According to recent reports by the California Department of Public Health, Latinos accounted for 34 percent of COVID-19 deaths from January through July 2022. In 2020 and 2021, the deaths were at 47 percent.
California has worked hard on giving proper access to the community, such as information in Spanish, transportation to clinics, and more to be able to fight through the many roadblocks the community endures.
Overall, the virus still poses a great risk to Latino California residents – and it hits the unvaccinated the hardest.
According to a Massachusetts report, conducted by the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Old Bay State has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the nation for ethnic and racial minorities.
The report was based on Kaiser Family Foundation data from July,
What it found was overwhelming data confirming that a large percentage of its Latino residents are vaccinated. In comparison to the rest of the nation, this state’s Latino population is the third highest, or 82 percent, to be vaccinated.
In order to accrue such favorable data, Governor Charlie Baker provided financial incentives to vulnerable communities, such as the Latino community, and prioritized partnering with nonprofit organizations and health groups to offer vaccination clinics.
He wanted to reach communities with low rates, according to the Baker administration. His ultimate goal was to even out the racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities that stalled vaccine rates, as reported by the Haverhill Gazette.
Oregon Health Authority continues to work with community organizations to improve vaccination access. And it’s working.
In June 2021, only 45 percent of people in the Latino community had received both of the first two shots. Now, the gap has shrunk. According to OPB, as of early September 2022, 72 percent of the adult Latino population received the first two doses of the vaccine in comparison to 76 percent of the state’s white population.
Though this is a major improvement, many Oregonian counties are way behind in their vaccination rates.
The state now works towards holding walk-in vaccination clinics at places that have established trust within the community. Working alongside organizations such as the Latino Network, the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Network, Centro Cultural, and other nonprofits and churches across the state has helped tremendously in vaccination efforts as well.
Recently, the Latino Academy of Workforce Development held a vaccination clinic event to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations.
Dr. Waldely Pirona who works with the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging and Health Groups was at the event.
She took this opportunity to express how as a Latina she tries to reach her community.
Dr. Pirona works with local churches and Hispanic community organizations to help significantly increase turnout at COVID-19 vaccine clinics, focusing on dispelling misinformation and reducing vaccine hesitancy through compassion and facts.
These types of initiatives are helping Wisconsin expand its vaccination access to the Latino community.