Mississippi’s Hispanic community lagging behind in COVID-19 vaccinations

Hispanic community lagging behind in COVID-19 vaccinations

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Hispanic community is lagging behind in getting the COVID-19 vaccines.

Advocates say Hispanics face challenges from being undocumented or fearful of sharing their information to internet access. Several efforts are underway to inoculate the Latino community.

Esther Urbina is working to get vaccines into the arms of members of the Hispanic community. The Mississippi College senior has even helped people sign up for the shots on the State Health Department’s website.

According to the State Health Department, more than 1,400,000 doses have been administered. Over 14,800 Hispanics have received their first shot. More than 7,500 are fully vaccinated.

That is only two percent of the vaccinations in the state. Hispanics are 3.4 percent of the state’s population.

Latinos are having difficulty because of the language barrier and knowing how to get the vaccine.

“Whenever they do find the website the website is in English, and so they’re not able to fill out that application or fill out the form because they don’t understand what they’re saying because it’s not in their language,” said Urbina.

The Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance is also working to increase the vaccine rate. Another problem they are finding is getting certified interpreters for doctors and at vaccine sites.

“Right now we don’t have enough interpreters to help the health department and the doctors,” said Luis Espinoza with MS Immigrants Rights Alliance. “The rules they have and (there are) legal issues. So they need a professional interpreter. What I know is that not too many interpreters are qualified to do that.”

State Health officials say another hurdle is access to the internet and technology. The department is working with churches and communities to organize vaccine distribution. One will be Saturday, April 25 at Urbina’s church in Pearl.

“Iglesia de Dios Fuente de Vida. That translates to Church of God Fountain of Life,” added Urbina.

For several months, the Selma Alford with the State Health Department, MIRA and other group have been assisting people with registering for the vaccines on the health department website.

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