Vaccine Central

Organization works to dispel myths, allay fears of vaccine among Latinos

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Latino Institute is pushing to make sure more Spanish-speaking Hoosiers get their COVID-19 shots.

As of April 5, health officials say only 5.2% of the Hispanic or Latino population in Marion County is fully vaccinated. Community leaders say some Latinos still face obstacles that include access to the internet and transportation to vaccination locations.

“Not having technology and you look at all different areas across the state,” Marlene Dotson, Indiana Latino Institute President and CEO, said. “Not being able to have access to a computer or laptop or internet and with the loss of jobs they also have experience not being able to pay for their bills.”

The organization is also hosting a series of virtual town hall meetings with bilingual healthcare workers to address any hesitancy about the vaccine and debunk any misinformation.

“Experts on the field to provide reliable information,” Dotson said. “We were able to reach through these town hall meetings over 9,000 people across the state and we’re not stopping here.”

Noel Fernandez, an Indianapolis resident, says there are a lot of myths about the vaccine among the Latino community.

“There’s also ridiculous theories such as you’re going to get a microchip implanted,” Fernandez said. “I don’t believe very much in that, but I believe that behind every myth there’s just something.”

He says he wants to address his concerns about the vaccine before he gets his shot.

“I think I am going to wait a little while,” said Fernandez. “I think the majority of us are waiting to see how things progress.”

The Indiana Latino Institute adds that many Latinos won’t have access to the internet or technology to sign up for the vaccine so they’re hoping the state will provide more resources such as hotspots.

In March, Marion County Public Health Department partnered with the City of Indianapolis and other organizations to create a Spanish COVID-19 vaccine registration day. They say around 800 people eligible for the vaccine at the time got registered, but there’s still more work to do so that all Hoosiers are able to get their shots.

According to Belkis Ramirez,  a program specialist for the health department, for some Latinos, it’s easier to register via phone.

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