Thu, 09 Dec 2021

ARLINGTON, Virginia - Although COVID-19 rates have gone down, the virus continues to hit the Hispanic community especially hard. Now, a new campaign aims to reduce health disparities and combat vaccine misinformation to keep Latinos healthy.

Across the nation, the Hispanic vaccination rate is alarmingly low, according to Georgetown University president Dr. Federico Asch, board director of the American Heart Association's Greater Washington Region, which is sponsoring the campaign. He said "Stay Fuerte for All" encourages healthcare providers to address language barriers and correct misinformation about the vaccine.

"It's extremely important," he said, "that when we communicate to the Hispanic community, we do it in our language so they can understand that they have access to health care that is indeed provided in Spanish, so they can have a more direct and fluid communication with providers."

Virginia is one of a few states that's succeeded in reaching a higher number of Latinos for COVID vaccinations, with about 65% fully vaccinated as of this week, according to the state health department. But the rate is much lower in some regions - just 45% in the seven cities of Hampton Roads.

Asch said it's important to target the Hispanic community because it includes so many essential workers, who've had to go into places of employment and face higher COVID risks. He added that some are employed in low-wage jobs that don't offer affordable health insurance, leaving them prone to underlying health conditions.

"Hispanics tend to have much higher rates of comorbidities that predispose them to serious forms of COVID-19," he said. "For example, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and lung disease."

He said he wants folks to know that there's no cost for the vaccine, and no special documentation is needed, other than an ID for proof of age to get one. They're available for all people age 12 and older, and it's expected that regulators will make the vaccine available to 5- to-11-year-olds in the coming weeks.

Source: Virginia News Connection

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