The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa is working with the nonprofit Forward Latino to vaccinate more Latino, Spanish-speaking and immigrant Iowans.
“We want to reach out to the underserved people in our community who may be hesitant to get the vaccine with information that communicates directly to them and their concerns,” said Michael Reyes, administrator of LULAC Council 10 in Davenport. “The plan is to spread the word about and host a series of vaccination clinics at our facility here in Davenport.”
“After having success with this program in Wisconsin, Forward Latino is excited to be partnering with great organizations across Iowa to share information about the vaccines in both English and Spanish,” Darryl Morin, Forward Latino national president, said Thursday in a visit to LULAC in Davenport. “We know that the Latino and immigrant populations are disproportionately impacted by this virus and equity in healthcare is integral to the well-being of the entire community.”
Forward Latino (which is based in Wisconsin and serves 29 states) has produced a new social media commercial featuring a Spanish-speaking COVID survivor, who came down with the virus in July 2020 and required a double-lung transplant. She’s in her late 50s, lives outside Milwaukee, and urges vaccination.
“It is free, safe and requires no ID,” the woman says in the spot. “When people ask why you got vaccinated, say ‘Por mi familia’,” meaning “for my family.” A new upcoming Iowa promotional campaign to boost COVID vaccination among Latinos is called “Por Mi Familia.”
There has been vaccine hesitancy among the Latino population (like the general U.S. population as well), mainly stemming from misinformation, Morin said.
“What’s really frustrating is that a lot of it is paid misinformation,” he said. “That’s a struggle.”
Among challenges are that many Hispanics think you have to be an American citizen to get a free vaccine (not true); you have to show proper ID (not true), and about 25 percent of Latinos don’t know where to go to get vaccinated, Morin said.
Since Pfizer has been fully approved by the FDA (beyond previous emergency use authorization that Moderna and Johnson & Johnson currently have), the Hispanic population is now the fastest racial/ethnic group to get their shot, he said.
“That being said, we’re still way behind, so there’s a lot of work to be done,” Morin said.
The FDA is expected to soon to approve Pfizer emergency use authorization for COVID vaccines for 5-to-11-year-olds, he noted. “That will be a game changer for schools.”
Forward Latino works directly with the CDC and the federal Vaccine Task Force. “They gave us language that everybody is eligible, regardless of status, etc., so that was one of the problems we ran into early on – if you went into a CVS or a Walgreens, they would ask you, give us your driver’s license or state ID. So people would actually be turned away.
“We went back to the Vaccine Task Force and got their language, and we went back to Kroger, to CVS, Walgreens, etc., and they modified their programs,” Morin said, removing any ID requirement. “And everything is paid for by the federal government.”
Forward Latino is a national, non-partisan, nonprofit advocacy and service organization that recently received a $155,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Public Health. It’s for a new statewide campaign to ensure healthcare equity in the system, and promote increased vaccination among Hispanics in Iowa.
They will use the funds for a media promotional campaign in English and Spanish across the state, and a series of vaccination clinics across the state.
“We know we have tremendous challenges ahead of us,” Morin said. “Only about 35 percent of Hispanic adults in the state of Iowa are fully vaccinated.”
Hispanics vaccinated at a lower rate
Across 43 states, the percent of White people who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose (54%) was 1.2 times higher than the rate for Black people (46%) and 1.1 times higher than the rate for Hispanic people (51%) as of Oct. 4, 2021, according to the CDC.
Of the total 719,725 COVID-related deaths to date in the U.S., 126,512 have been among Latinos, according to the CDC.
The new ad campaign will target electronic and print media – including TV, radio, and Spanish-language newspapers, Morin said, as well as social media. The total media buy will be between $90,000 and $120,000, he said.
“We will be blanketing the state. We’re going to be shooting some commercials over the next couple days, with trusted community leaders throughout the state of Iowa,” Morin said. “So everyone can hear the people they trust in the community.”
Getting vaccinated can be one of the most unselfish things people can do, he noted.
“You’re not only doing it for yourself, you’re doing it to protect your family,” Morin said. In the Quad-Cities, Forward Latino will work with LULAC Council 10 and LULAC of Iowa.
The vaccination clinic schedule will be posted at www.forwardlatino.org/iowacovid.
“Our goal here is to reach the disenfranchised and people who have been reluctant to take the vaccine,” Reyes said. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there and we’d like to get that clarified.”
“We’d like to make people more comfortable, to increase those numbers, especially in the new Iowa community.”
The Iowa public health grant was unexpected, and something that hasn’t been done yet in Illinois, Reyes said. “This is great for our community.” Forward Latino has done a similar campaign in Wisconsin.
Working to ensure vaccine equity
The CDC says it’s committed to COVID-19 vaccine equity, which is when everyone has fair and just access to COVID vaccination. “There are many social, geographic, political, economic, and environmental factors that create challenges to vaccination access and acceptance, and that often affect racial and ethnic minority groups,” according to its website. Some of these factors include:
- Education, income, and wealth gaps
- Job access and working conditions
- Racism and other forms of discrimination
- Gaps in healthcare access
- Transportation and neighborhood conditions
- Lack of trust as a result of past medical racism and experimentation
To promote COVID-19 vaccination among Black or African-American people and Hispanic or Latino people, the CDC has provided funding for organizations that reach racial and ethnic minority groups. This funding includes:
- $3 billion awarded to 64 jurisdictions to support local health departments and community-based organizations in launching new programs and initiatives to increase vaccine access, acceptance, and uptake in communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19
- $2.25 billion awarded to health departments across the U.S. and its territories to work in collaboration with community partners to support efforts to address COVID-19 health disparities
- $348 million to organizations for community health worker (CHW) services to support COVID-19 prevention and control, and $32 million to organizations for CHW services to support training, technical assistance, and evaluation, all funded through the CDC’s Community Health Workers for COVID Response and Resilient Communities initiative.