Advocates addressing low COVID-19 vaccination numbers in the Latino community

Advocates are organizing pop-up vaccination clinics geared toward North Carolina's Latino community, which has been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic but has low vaccination rates.

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According to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Latinos only account for about 2 percent of those getting vaccinated in North Carolina. Currently, Latinos account for 22 percent of COVID-19 cases statewide.

El Centro Hispano and Wake County Health Department collaborated on a pop-up vaccination clinic Monday in Raleigh. More than 200 health care workers and people 65 and older had appointments to get vaccinated.

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"We know that there's several barriers to getting the vaccine," said Eliazar Posada, acting President and CEO of El Centro Hispano, a nonprofit advocating for Latinos in the Triangle. "You know, language is one of those. Trust is another one. So by us being the folks who are having this event, we're working with the community and reaching out to them and setting up the appointments. We want to give folks, not only the space to get the vaccine, but also the trust and all the information they need."

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Delfina Regalado, 74, got a vaccine Monday. She said she has diabetes and barely leaves her home due to COVID-19.

"I hope to God with the vaccine I can leave to at least go see my other kids," Regalado said.

While everybody was welcome to attend Monday's vaccination clinic, it was geared toward members of the Latino community.

"We reached out to them," Posada said. "We help them set the appointment. It was all through phone, all in Spanish and there was no like, 'Go to this website. Sign up over here, go to this other place and fill this form out.' It was us doing that one to one with community members."

Last week, El Centro Hispano teamed up with Duke Health, La Semilla, Greenlight and Immaculate Conception Church to put on a similar clinic at Latino Community Credit Union in Durham. 150 people got vaccinated. The organizations partnered through Duke's LATIN-19 initiative, which formed to advocate for the Latino community during the pandemic.

Organizers hope to put on more of these clinics. Vaccine supply continues to be limited so that's a factor in how many people they can vaccinate.
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