By Rodrigo Ruiz-Tello
April 7, 2021
It has been over a year since the first Coronavirus case was discovered in Georgia. Today, there have been revolutionary advances in controlling the spread of the novel virus with vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. As of April 6, 2021, there have been 4.28 million doses distributed in Georgia, and 1.42 million Georgians are fully vaccinated. However, only 26.5% of Georgia’s population received at least one dose. As the tremendous effort to get Georgia’s residents vaccinated continues, there have been issues emerging regarding minorities having a slower vaccination rate. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, only 3.3% of the Georgians who have received at least one dose of the vaccine are Latinos. To what can we attribute the slow vaccination rate of Latinos in Georgia?
One of the various factors in Latinos’ slow vaccination rate is that they are hesitant to receive the vaccine. This result is due to the lack of information in Spanish and other prominent languages in the Latino community, increasing doubt and misinformation across the population. An interview conducted by the Georgia Public Broadcast found that Latinos desire to hear from their community physicians who have first-hand experience with the vaccine. (Leon, 2021). However, with many vaccinations occurring in the pharmacies of several grocery stores, such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Publix, there has not been the opportunity of having Spanish-speaking physicians accessible to many Latinos.
Cost is also a factor that many consider when deciding on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Due to the lack of translated information, Latinos are unaware that the vaccine is accessible to anyone, regardless of their immigration status. Part of the 1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan that President Biden introduced at the beginning of his term sets a portion of its funds to provide this healthcare aid to all populations free of any cost (Shroeder, 2021).
While many distrust the vaccine, undocumented Latinos in Georgia are afraid to provide information that may form part of databases when registering to have the vaccine administered. Before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, the patient is asked for their identification or driver’s license and their health insurance card, which are items that an undocumented immigrant is not eligible to receive. However, Latinos are unaware that they can present their foreign identification and not provide actual health insurance. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that the information gathered from these vaccine registrations would strictly be used for public health purposes and will not be shared with law enforcement or any other agency.
Finally, another prominent issue in the Latino community regarding vaccination is transportation and location. Many Latinos depend on relatives to find a place where they can be vaccinated without fearing a language barrier. According to a study conducted by the Atlanta Archdiocese, roughly 64% of Metro Atlanta Latinos only spoke Spanish or indigenous languages. Along with finding a location, older Latinos depend heavily on their children to attend the vaccination sites. Furthermore, the areas with the highest population of Latinos in Georgia can be found in North Georgia counties, such as Gwinnett, which plays a prominent role in the availability of vaccines.
The vaccine has been distributed in Georgia at a decent pace. However, with the very little information provided to non-English speakers, there has been an irregular vaccination rate for residents of color, specifically Latinos. The state of Georgia should work alongside the organizations actively providing translated information, such as the Latino Community Fund (LCF) and the Consulate General of Mexico, to improve the disproportionate vaccination rates (Suro, 2021).
CORE Sites for vaccinations in Cobb, Dekalb, and Fulton.
Information regarding the Covid-19 vaccine from the CDC:
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NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at firstname.lastname@example.org.