Anyone can get COVID-19, but data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Hispanic communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected. A noticeably higher proportion of Hispanics under the age of 50 have gotten COVID-19 compared to the general U.S. population.
Lourdes Rios, clinical systems developer for Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville and Wolfson Children’s Hospital, said there are several barriers and concerns in Hispanic communities that contribute to this disparity, including transportation issues and language barriers.
“The most densely populated Hispanic communities in our area do not have as many pharmacies close by,” Rios said. “In addition, if you have a multi-generational family living together and sharing a car, or if you’re relying on public transportation, it may be challenging to get to the vaccine clinic.”
Language barriers can also prove challenging. If a clinic doesn’t have a Spanish speaker or translation service readily available, going through the vaccine process can be difficult.
Michelle Aquino, DO, an internist and hospitalist with Baptist Primary Care, said her Hispanic patients frequently have concerns about the vaccine’s safety and its effect on people. She addressed the concerns below.
Is the vaccine safe?
The vaccine is safe and backed by extensive scientific research.
“To help reduce the distrust and fear that exists among the Hispanic community, it is important for Hispanic medical leaders to come forward and explain the importance of the vaccine and its effectiveness,” Dr. Aquino said. “Hearing someone speak in Spanish about the safety of the vaccine will have a huge impact.”
Is the government tracking me with the vaccine?
Dr. Aquino said she’s also heard a myth among various communities that the vaccine is the government’s way of keeping track of people.
“This is, of course, not true,” Dr. Aquino said. “And, whether we like it or not, our phone probably has plenty of data on us already!”
Is the vaccine expensive?
No, the vaccine is free and available to all, including the uninsured.
Do I need a United States I.D. to get the vaccine?
No. You just need some form of identification (even if it’s a foreign passport).
If I get this vaccine, should I still get the flu shot?
Yes. It’s important to protect yourself from the flu as well as COVID-19.
I’m pregnant or breastfeeding. Should I wait to get vaccinated?
No. Whether you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant, you should get the vaccine.
“There are plenty of women who have gotten vaccinated and gotten pregnant after the vaccine without issue,” Dr. Aquino said.
I’m allergic to penicillin. Can I still get the vaccine?
Yes, you can still get the vaccine. There is no penicillin in the vaccine.
You can also get the vaccine if you are allergic to the flu shot.
However, you should not get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are allergic to anything in the shot.
At Baptist Health, we want to help keep our community informed about COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines visit baptistjax.com/covid19vaccine. For questions about COVID-19 symptoms, call 904.420.4841.