AUSTIN, Texas — The Latino community in Travis County has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
City and health leaders say vaccine access, educational resources and vaccine hesitancy have all contributed to the low vaccination rates among the Latino community.
“So, there's a lot of reasons why there's hesitancy among the Latinos in Austin, including a history of medical experiments as well as, for some individuals, their concerns about documentation status, as well as just having misinformation – not knowing where to go and not trusting in the vaccine,” said Austin City Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes, whose district is 70% Latino.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 20% of all people who are fully vaccinated are Latino. More people in this community have been getting vaccinated in recent weeks, which has lowered the percentage of Latinos in the hospital with COVID-19. On Tuesday, July 27, 34% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 were Latino.
Fuentes said more still needs to be done to vaccinate people in this community, especially with the delta variant. She also believes more should have been done earlier on in the pandemic to reach these people.
“Over half of the mortality rate here in Travis County have been Latinos,” Fuentes said. “And so, we are disproportionately affected by the virus. And so, that's why I believe we have to do more, especially in our communities of color, to have targeted outreach that are culturally competent, that are boots on the ground and that are community-oriented.”
Fuentes has been advocating to add more community health workers to go out into these impacted areas. She is asking to add $1 million to the budget to fund this expansion. The approval of the budget is expected to start the week of Aug. 11.
Austin Public Health is holding multiple mobile and pop-up vaccine clinics. They say you do not need to bring any money, insurance or documentation to get the shot.
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