Communities of Color Struggle to Get Vaccines
Online registrations are a barrier
Many older people “don’t have the skills” to register online, Ramirez said. “They may not even have a computer,” she added.
“Just insisting that our elected officials and the people who set up vaccine distribution for them use technology as the primary means of accessing the vaccine is in itself a huge obstacle,” said Ramirez. .
In Austin, the technological barrier is such that vaccination clinics that set up in minority communities are often overwhelmed with white people coming from other areas hoping to get vaccinated, Ramirez said.
“Because the portal that people have access to is for everyone, we see that a lot of people from other parts of the city who are more affluent come to our community and use the majority of the vaccine,” Ramirez said. “When you look at the statistics, only about 9% of Latinos get the vaccine, 2.2% of African Americans and the rest are white.”
Many people are also reluctant to get vaccinated because of the misinformation that has spread due to a lack of public health information aimed at black and Hispanic communities, experts said.
“There has been a lack of information regarding vaccines, their safety and why people should take them,” Ramirez said. “In the absence of good information, we have a lot of misinformation taking hold.”
Faced with all this, community groups took matters into their own hands.
The Clark-Amar group has set up a call center to help older people register for vaccination.
“We have care managers, social workers, on the phone, filling out the process online for them, scheduling it for them, printing all the pre-consent forms, pre-filling them,” Clark-Amar said. “We have buses, our own transportation, so we’re going to pick them up and make sure they get vaccinated, wherever they are.”
Call centers, churches and ice cream trucks
By the end of February, the Austin health authority is expected to open a multilingual call center, Ramirez said.
Community groups also take it upon themselves to promote vaccine safety.
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