• Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

Center works to educate the community, raise Covid vaccination numbers among the Hispanic population


JONESBORO, Ark- According to the CDC, over 75% of eligible Americans have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. But only 17% are members of the Hispanic and Latino communities.


El Centro Hispano executive director Gina Gomez says it’s about educating members of the Hispanic community. And debunk common misconceptions about the Covid-19 vaccine.


“It’s more people who don’t have the information. They don’t know where to go,” said Gomez, who encourages members of the community to get the Covid-19 vaccine. “In some cases, they were afraid of providing that information just because of the immigration issues. Having a doctor available to respond to questions that they may have. They may not have health insurance and, they think they might have to pay for it.”


Another barrier Gomez says people run into when trying to get vaccinated is language.


“Not all the providers have interpretation services or somebody on the staff that is bilingual,” she said.


To help, Hispanic Center employees and volunteers serve as translators during vaccination events from Jonesboro to small rural communities.


They also partnered with hospitals to host multiple Covid testing and vaccination clinics targeting the Hispanic community.


Gomez says their outreach efforts are paying off.


“Compared to some other events, I will say they’ve had really good responses from our community from our events. I think that the trust we have built for so many years. And the partnerships with so many service providers from previous years have helped to make this a successful process for us,” she said.


Gomez also attributes their vaccination success to one unsuspected group…teenagers.


“They are really convinced they need to get vaccinated, and they have helped us convince their mom, their dad, and their relatives to get the vaccine. And, also because the language barrier for our youth is much easier to understand everything because they are bilingual. So, we are working with them with the different educational programs we provide at the Hispanic Center to make sure those kids are involved in helping us to do outreach and education. So, they can have their contacts vaccinated as well," she said.


El Centro Hispano received funding from the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. Gomez says the funds allowed them to hire additional employees to work on their outreach team and vaccination clinics throughout the region. They will work through the end of the year.


Vaccinations among members of the Hispanic community are rising. According to the CDC, over the last two weeks, the percentage of Hispanics and Latinos who have received one dose of the vaccine rose 5%.


Additional vaccine clinics will take place with hopes to continue to increase the statistic.


As fall arrives, Gomez says they are starting to focus on encouraging the community to get their flu shot as well.

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