Elena Lopez of Chula Vista, an airport worker, gets a shot at a labor union distribution site in San Diego.
Elena Lopez of Chula Vista, an airport worker, gets a shot at a distribution site in San Diego in March, but vaccination rates have lagged in the Latino community. Photo by Chris Stone

AltaMed Health Services has announced a partnership with community health centers across California to encourage Latinos to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“From San Diego to Sacramento, Latinos continue to face structural barriers to access vaccines,” AltaMed Health Services President/CEO Castula De La Rocha said in a statement. “We have over 50 years of experience tackling health care disparities, and we are approaching vaccination rates with proven community-led interventions.”

The “Andale! Que Esperas?” campaign is aimed at making vaccinations more accessible in urban and suburban areas disproportionately affected during the pandemic.

The goal of the program is to ensure the community can protect themselves as they return to in-person school and work, particularly Latinos between the ages of 18 and 35, who have been disproportionately hit by the disease.

Organizers said only 46.3% of Latinos out of 13 million statewide are vaccinated. San Diego State University is among the groups that have attempted to raise awareness about COVID-19 in Latino communities.

The public education campaign began Monday in Los Angeles, and will move to Sacramento, San Francisco and Fresno before reaching San Diego.

“As we work statewide to continue building on the progress we have made in improving vaccination rates among Latinos, AltaMed’s campaign – which is designed to build trust through community health centers and trusted messengers – will help serve California’s most impacted communities,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon, director of the California Department of Public Health.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report cited by AltaMed, one-third of unvaccinated Latinos, the highest proportion of any racial group, said they want the vaccine but have found it difficult to access.

Student Giovanna Traconis said, “Like me, Latinos want the vaccine, but faced various obstacles in getting vaccinated, including economic anxiety from the possibility of missing work, confusion on the price of the vaccine and concern about being asked about citizenship.”

– City News Service