In the Brownsville, Brooklyn area, Renee Muir, director of development and community relations at BMS Family Health Center, said she was developing a survey to collect evidence of the challenges that affect the community. Many residents are severely affected by the virus due to adverse health conditions and unemployment.
“Now you’re talking about people making decisions to spend $ 6 round-trip, eat, or pay a phone bill,” Ms. Muir said of local residents traveling to get a vaccine.
Latinos have been exposed to misinformation about vaccines on messaging platforms like WhatsApp and social media, said Dr. Valeria Daniela Lucio Cantos, Infectious Disease Specialist at Emory University. She has worked to help Latinos understand the vaccine and make appointments.
“There’s this emphasis on the risk and not enough on the benefits of the vaccines,” she said.
While many older Americans have difficulty registering for a vaccine with the online system, websites that are only available in English created an additional barrier, said Dr. Cantos.
“It seems that the vaccine distribution system was not aimed at the Latinx community,” she said, using the gender-neutral term for Latinos. She added that vaccination centers that asked for social security or insurance numbers made it difficult for undocumented immigrants to feel safe.
Dr. Paulina Rebolledo, an assistant professor at Emory, hopes officials will begin to rethink their approach by mobilizing with organizations within color communities that residents trust and speak different languages.
“We on the provider side or in the healthcare sector can try to do more to reach out to patients and let them hear our voices,” she said. “It’s their overall health that we want to work on, and that’s just an integral part of the exercise.”