Health & Fitness

The vaccination gap between Hispanic communities reflects barriers to access

Hispanics remain particularly underrepresented among those vaccinated against Covid-19 in the United States, according to an analysis by the New York Times of government-reported racial and ethnicity information. The Hispanic percentage of the vaccinated population is less than the general Hispanic population in any state with large Hispanic communities.

Known Hispanic proportion of the vaccinated population and from the Average population

New Mexico Texas California Arizona Florida Colorado New York Illinois Connecticut Rhode Island Utah Oregon Washington Massachusetts Nebraska Oklahoma Maryland Hispanic share vaccinated Share of population 0% 0% 25% 25% 50% 50%

Note: The included states had a Hispanic population of 10 percent or more. Nevada and New Jersey were excluded because they did not report race and ethnicity of vaccinated people, but rather all doses administered. States define race and ethnicity differently and with varying degrees of completeness – in some states up to a third of vaccinations are missing data on race and ethnicity. Comparisons between states should be made with caution.

Barriers to access to vaccines that many Hispanic communities face – along with the structural constraints that color communities generally face – stand in the way of higher vaccination rates even if the vaccine continues, according to public health experts and community health organizers is spread.

Access to the digital tools needed to secure an appointment, for example, is limited, especially for older people living in immigrant communities.

“Our people don’t have email, they don’t have computers at home,” said James Rudyk, executive director of Chicago’s Northwest Side Housing Center, which runs vaccination clinics in Belmont Cragin, a largely Hispanic neighborhood. “You have smartphones, but they don’t navigate registration systems where you want to fill out pages and pages of information.”

And often information on vaccine suitability and registration is only available in English.

“People didn’t even know there was a vaccine when we spoke to them,” said Gilda Pedraza, executive director of the Latino Community Fund in Atlanta, which called hundreds of elderly Hispanics in late February to set up a vaccination clinic. before the state health department published eligibility information in Spanish.

Districts in the United States with significant Hispanic populations are more likely to face technology, language, and cost barriers to health care, and are less likely to have insurance.

US counties grouped by residents’ access to information

Counties with:
Less Spanish than national average.

More Spanish than the national average.

US counties grouped by cost barriers to health care for residents

Counties with:
Less Spanish than national average.

More Spanish than the national average.

Vaccination clinic organizers also report that Hispanic members of their communities, many of whom are uninsured, are unaware that the vaccine is free for everyone and have raised concerns about its cost. Some, especially key workers with limited or no free time, say they can’t miss work to get a shot or can’t afford to miss a day if they have vaccine side effects.

And while the Biden government has stated that getting a vaccine will not affect a person’s immigration status, community health workers say it remains a major problem for immigrant families.

“Yesterday I got two calls from people trying to regulate their situation and they said, ‘We’d rather not have our vaccine because what if they find out we got it and it affects our immigration process? ? ‘”Said Mrs. Pedraza. “And I said, ‘You couldn’t go through your immigration process if you didn’t get your vaccine.'”

A trusted healthcare provider sharing information about the vaccine can remove some of these barriers, according to public health experts. Hispanics are less likely to have a relationship with a health care provider, however. And counties with significant Hispanic populations are less likely to have reliable or regular access to health care.

US counties grouped by access to routine health care

Counties with:
Less Spanish than national average.

More Spanish than the national average.

US counties grouped by residents who have a regular doctor

Counties with:
Less Spanish than national average.

Least inhabitants
Below 20%

More Spanish than the national average.

Community health attorneys who live and work in the areas where they are helping with vaccination take some of this responsibility and share important information about the vaccine.

“We initially had a no-show rate of almost 20 percent for our first day of the second dose and we reduced that to less than 2 percent through phone calls,” said Rudyk. “A lot of people thought one dose was enough.”

And while vaccine safety concerns are common, proponents say that talking about those fears, even if it takes time, will help people make decisions about vaccination.

“It is important to see people like you and to speak like you,” said Ms. Pedraza. “It’s what changes behavior.”

States that work with community-level organizations are administering the vaccine more equitably than others, said Rita Carreón, vice president of health at UnidosUS, a civil rights organization serving Hispanic communities.

In the states included in the Times analysis, the gap between the Hispanic proportion of the general population and the vaccinated population has narrowed slightly since the beginning of the month. Widening approval for the vaccine in some states may help narrow the gap, but public health experts say barriers to access still play an oversized role in inequality.

The vaccination gap has decreased since the beginning of March

Gap between the Hispanic percentage of the general population and the Hispanic percentage of people vaccinated in each state

Change from

3 March…

… To

March, 20th.




Note: The data represents the latest available figures collected by The Times through March 3rd and 20th. In some cases, the data that this data said was made publicly available a week earlier. Arizona was excluded because it changed the way race and ethnicity are reported between the two surveys, so the numbers were not comparable.

Federal efforts to close the vaccination gaps for Hispanic Americans through community health centers have been limited, but have had some success. While Hispanic makes up about 18 percent of the U.S. population, Hispanics made up more than a quarter of those nationwide who received their first dose at a community health center, according to an analysis of federal data by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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