Latina doctors with Duke Health get COVID-19 vaccine to show community it's safe

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Two Latina doctors at Duke Health are all smiles after getting vaccinated for COVID-19. They're hoping this will let people of color know they can trust the vaccine.

Gabriela Maradiaga-Panayotti is a pediatrician and associate professor at Duke. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi is a family doctor and leads Duke's Health Equity Department for Family Medicine and Community Health.

Many of their patients look like them-and often share their fears about the vaccine's safety and fast roll out.

"Some are concerned that the vaccine will give them COVID. And so we share that it's not a live virus. It's just a segment of the protein. A segment to mimic so that when you get the vaccine the body will recognize that and then be able to fight the day you get the virus yourself," said Dr. Martinez-Bianchi.

"It's important for people to realize the safety piece is not what was compromised. Those things were kept with high fidelity," said Maradiaga-Panayotti. "It's all the Bureaucracy and all this other stuff that was made more efficient so that it could be rolled out as quickly as possible."

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Two doctors who advocate for the health of the Latinx community describe what it's like getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

When you look at the numbers, Latino representation in taking the vaccine is critical.

This ethnic group represents nearly 10 percent of the population, but 26 percent of total cases, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Service.

The women founded the organization Latin 19 during the pandemic. LATIN-19 is a coalition that comes together for a weekly meeting on Wednesdays.

They discuss COVID-19s impact on the Latinx community and advocate for additional testing sites and protections for Latinos working frontline jobs like meatpacking and poultry plants.
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