Latino Community Sees Disparity in COVID-19 Vaccination Rates
As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, many people are desperate to get their hands on doses, but one community has been showing some reluctance.
While not a problem unique to Utah, the Latino population in the state has received far less doses of the vaccine than the total amount administered.
Eligible Latinos for the vaccine make up more than 13% of Utah’s population but have only received 4% of the more than one million doses administered in the state.
In Summit County, 45% of adults over the age of 18 have received their first dose of vaccine, however the county’s coronavirus dashboard doesn’t disclose demographics for vaccinations.
But with almost 20% of Park City’s population being Latino or Hispanic, Summit County Health Department Director Rich Bullough said he’s sure there’s disparity in getting vaccines distributed to the community.
"That's just unfortunately the nature of that issue," Bullough said. "They're generally a harder population to reach. And there is some suspicion, not just about the vaccine, but about the entities that provide the vaccine."
The People’s Health Clinic offers no-cost healthcare to anyone regardless of race, ethnicity or immigration status and is trying to bridge the inequality with vaccine distribution.
Executive Director Beth Armstrong said there are still a number of factors driving reluctance.
"There's a lot of … 'I don't need the shot because I already had the virus; I don't want to put my name or information into a government, you know, the state system; I don't want to get it because I don't think it's safe; my friends tell me that the side effects are worse than the actual shot,'" Armstrong said.
The state’s coronavirus dashboard shows Latinos make up 14% of the entire population in Utah, but they account for 20% of the total cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Armstrong said this is one of the largest driving factors in apprehension.
She sid the clinic has been calling patients individually to try to educate and register them for vaccine appointments.
They’ve also held three clinics, the first one had 24 people turn out and the second saw 34. Armstrong said those are tiny numbers compared to the actual amount of people they need to reach.
And she said supply isn’t an issue, the Health Department provides them with necessary doses.
"They've been offering as many as we want," she said. "We're not taking more than we can get in arms. For this population, it's not about being limited by the vaccines, it's being limited by their willingness to come and get vaccinated."
In the future, she said, they also hope to offer the vaccine alongside their services.
"Whenever they open it up to all population, which I believe is probably going to be in April, it would be nice to be able to offer that vaccination at the clinic to any patient that's there for regular visits," she said. "It'd be nice to offer it to our prenatal and postnatal patients, you know, the chronically ill, with diabetes and pre-diabetes and heart conditions."
In the meantime, the People’s Health Clinic will continue to try to spread awareness and information on the safety of the vaccine.
Armstrong said the clinic has teamed up with the Christian Center of Park City to put both English and Spanish pamphlets on vaccines into Easter baskets, which will go to over 500 families throughout the community.