LATIN-19 making strides in vaccinating NC's Latino community amid pandemic

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A group made up of community leaders is making strides in addressing North Carolina's health disparities within the LatinX community.

More than 10,000 vaccines have been distributed at LATIN-19 clinics thanks to the coalition of healthcare system leaders, nonprofits, churches and more called LATIN-19.

Seven percent of those vaccinated in North Carolina are Latino. Compare that to March when Latinos made up less than 3 percent of COVID-19 vaccinations, despite making up nearly 10 percent of the state population.

"I feel really good," said Duke Health's Dr. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, who co-founded the group along with colleague Dr. Gabriela Maradiaga-Panayotti. "I feel that the most important issue here is that we are listening to our community and answering their questions and so it feels great to be able to be part of this state-broad effort to answer questions, to make sure that people can trust the vaccine."

LATIN-19 stands for Latinx Advocacy Team & Interdisciplinary Network for COVID-19. The group formed in March 2020 when COVID-19 cases among Latinos in North Carolina started rising. At one point, Latinos made up 43 percent of COVID-19 cases in the state.

Now, LATIN-19 members meet virtually every Wednesday.

Data shows 20 percent of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina were among Latinos from March 1, 2020, to May 30, 2021, so Dr. Martinez-Bianchi acknowledges there is still work to do.

"LATIN-19 started with the pandemic, but there were multiple reasons why, the Comunidad Latina was disproportionately affected and those reasons are not going away," Dr. Martinez-Bianchi said. "We may have a grasp surrounding the COVID 19 pandemic, but we still have multiple groups of people without access to health insurance."

On Thursday, LATIN-19 will partner with UNC and the nonprofit La Semilla and Judea Reform Congregation to host a mobile clinic at Duke Manor Apartments in Durham from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. -- both the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccine will be offered.

"We're going to give some information about the vaccine too because we know some people are scared to get the vaccine because they don't have enough information about it," said La Semilla's Laura Jaimes.
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