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Latinx community battles misinformation and language barriers in vaccine effort

Louisiana Department of Health Vaccine Safety Info
Louisiana Department of Health Vaccine Safety Info(WVUE)
Published: Apr. 10, 2021 at 8:31 PM CDT
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(Editor’s note: This story was originally published March 30, 2021 at 8:32 PM CDT - Updated March 31 at 9:42 AM on www.fox8live.com)

NEW ORLEANS (Great Health Divide) - Reaching herd immunity from Covid-19 will take a large percentage of all Louisianians getting vaccinated.

Some leaders in the Spanish speaking community say it’s about overcoming obstacles to get shots in arms. Bringing the vaccine to where people are like a drive through event at the Ideal Market in February is one tactic to get everyone vaccinated.

Ana Maria Bech publishes the local Spanish language Viva Nola magazine. She said, “I think we are making progress and people in the Latino community are understanding that is what is needed to move on.”

Fox 8 partners with the magazine to help provide vital information for the Spanish speaking community.

“Fox 8′s website, which is //fox8live.com/espanol, has lots of information in Spanish, which includes vaccine sites, schedules, and everything regarding vaccines, so you can visit this page and find all the necessary information so that you are encouraged to get vaccinated,” said Bech.

She says access to basic information like vaccine locations and transportation options is a huge hurdle. “There is not a lot of massive media in Spanish,” she said.

Dr. Juan Gershanik is impressed with the City of New Orleans Hispanic Covid Task Force working to break through those barriers. He said, “No doubt that Latinos have a special need not only with the language barrier, but also with culture.”

Gershanik says its important to get in every member of the community. “To get the herd immunity we need to get the whole population to take it serious and getting vaccinated,” according to Gershanik.

He also wants everyone to understand information is confidential. Gershanik said, “They can be assured that all the safety measures and the protections can be guaranteed. They don’t need to be concerned about immigration status.”

Both Gershanik and Bech say misinformation is also a problem.

Bech said, “There is still a lot of misinformation that people get from their country of origin, from the internet so people are still a little bit hesitant to go and get vaccinated.”

“Many of them have concerns and questions and the only way we will be able to really work our way through is addressing their concerns,” said Gershanik.

According to Bech, “The good thing is there has been a lot of efforts from the city officials and parishes to provide bilingual staff at the vaccination sites to help those people who want to ask questions in Spanish and have the answers they need so that’s something very positive.”

Hispanic Apostolate church in Kenner will host a vaccination event Wednesday, March 31 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Make appointments through MyOschner.org or calling 844-888-2772.

Great Health Divide is an initiative addressing health disparities in the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia funded in part by the Google News Initiative.

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