It is no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a disastrous impact on the Hispanic community. For Selina Herrera, in particular, the reality of the obstacles to getting help and vaccines against the virus was something she saw firsthand in her family.
A Texas resident, the Latina became a volunteer when, at just 26 years old, she took it upon herself to sign up her relatives for Covid-19 vaccine appointments, being the most tech-savvy in her family.
In the story reported by NBC News, Herrera described the obstacles her Latino family had in finding appointments, which sometimes included not only the technology but understanding exactly what the procedure was all about.
Selina Herrera then decided to create a Google form to schedule appointments. It includes basic contact and health information and how far the applicant is willing to travel to get vaccinated.
Her daily routine consists of working on this during her lunch hour or in the evening after her full-time job, providing a quality assessment for caseworkers working with clients enrolled in government programs such as SNAP or Medicaid. Her weekends are spent exclusively reviewing her Google Form to facilitate appointments, she said.
Most of her applicants are Latino, which is not surprising since they represent the vast majority of the Rio Grande Valley population, a region on Texas’s southern border over Mexico.
“There are just so many barriers, and this is the solution I had,” Herrera said. “I could offer this.”
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to catch these appointments for them, and I just have to thank my really fast thumbs and super-speed internet, which I know many people may not have,” she said.
The young volunteer’s job is not only to pass on the necessary information and do the procedure for each person but also to gain the trust of a community that, thanks to the weight of history, has had to be wary of medical procedures and scams.
The main obstacle for residents has been the limited appointment schedule. Most residents have gone to vaccination centers where wristbands are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, forcing them to wait in line for hours.
It is disappointing for them when they are turned away, Herrera said. They often have to take time off work, and transportation requires planning logistics, an even more difficult feat if they don’t have a car, she said.
“I just feel good, and I know I can share that with the people I’m helping. Once they get that vaccination, I hope they feel that too — that relief, that weight lifted from their shoulders,” she said. “That this is the next step they’re taking to protect themselves.”
With information from NBC News.