Latinos Facing Multiple Barriers To Getting COVID Vaccines

Experts say vaccination of Hispanics hindered by language, education, access to appointments and fear of deportation.
Posted at 5:11 PM, Feb 16, 2021

Across the country, Latinos face many barriers to getting the coronavirus vaccine: language, lack of education, access to appointments, and fear of deportation.

"There is a natural aversion to being — to putting your name on any list. Putting your address and your phone number on any list because you're afraid of how it's going to be used, the information," said Dr. Victor Peralta from the SOMOS Community Care in New York.  

Latinos or Hispanics make up about 18% of the US population and they are disproportionately getting sick from COVID. Their death rates are more than twice that of White people.

"My personal opinion is that this is not a fear of Latinos from getting the vaccine. I think it's a lack of opportunities to get it," said Peralta.

But this is not just a Latino problem, it's a problem for all of us if we want to put a stop to this virus.  

"I just got vaccinated, thank God thank God, I feel good," said San Diego resident Arturo Ramos. 

 It was his lucky day, but it wasn't easy. After failing multiple times to book an  online appointment, he enlisted his niece's help. And for those who only read in Spanish, it's even more difficult to navigate through English-only vaccine portals. In Arizona, Sandra Valenzuela stepped in to help her 81-year-old mother in law. 

"It's horrible, it's a horrible situation for us, that we speak Spanish… our first language is in Spanish. But what can we do?" said Valenzuela. 

A recent AP-NORC poll showed about half of Hispanics surveyed were extremely or very worried about  themselves or family members being infected with COVID-19. They are also slightly hesitant than Whites to get the shot— about 65% were willing to get vaccinated or have already received the first dose.  But even if Latinos are willing to get the shots, for those essential workers working, it's about making time to get it. 

Peralta said, "Bodega workers, supermarkets, restaurants, food industry, and they are working during the day. These are done during the day. So it's hard to get them to find time to get vaccinated."