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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Latino leaders discuss ways to close vaccination gap in their community

To answer more people's questions about the vaccine and dismiss fears, Dr. Rolando Sanchez and other doctors host webinars and answer all vaccine-related questions.

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While vaccine eligibility opens up to all Iowans 16 and older Monday, some in the Latino community fear they will continue to lag in the number of people vaccinated. 

Two community leaders think the importance of the message isn't reaching their people.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, so far only 2% of the state's Hispanic population has been vaccinated

Dr. Rolando Sanchez, pulmonologist and clinical associate professor at the University of Iowa, said the percentage may be low because some in the Latino community "don't trust the safety and efficacy of vaccines."

He noted some of his Latino patients tell him their mistrust of the vaccine comes from what they see on social media. But, by educating them on the vaccine he can help relieve some of those fears. 

"[However] the problem with the Latin community is that there is a significant percentage of patients of people that don't speak fluent English," Sanchez told Local 5. 

Sanchez said for that population, language is where the problem arises. It's unclear if there is anybody around who is knowledgeable about vaccines who can answer their questions in that person's native language. 

To partly solve that problem, he and a few other doctors began hosting online webinars going over all things vaccines.

"Because we're hoping that we could understand what are the questions in the community, the Latin community, and try to answer their doubts," Sanchez said. 

Joe Henry, the state political director for League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa, believes state and local government agencies should be the ones spreading the importance of vaccines.

"A public campaign, a PR campaign," Henry said when asked how he thought the government should be spreading the message.

A re-evaluation of the vaccine sign-up process and where the sites are located needs to happen, LULAC's political director believes.

"It needs to be offered to them in a way that is easily accessible," Henry said. "Up and to including their doorsteps, going to their house making sure people are vaccinated within certain neighborhoods."

He said this is important because not everybody has access to the technology to make appointments or transportation to sites that are not within walking distance. 

He also noted LULAC has been pushing for people in their community to get vaccinated. They've also been in contact with some government agencies to talk about having people go door-to-door in certain areas to help the Latino community sign up for vaccines. 

RELATED: Every adult in Iowa now eligible for COVID vaccine | Here's how and where to schedule an appointment

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