Leaders praise ‘promotoras’ for vaccine outreach effort in Latino community

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego County’s Hispanic community continues to withstand the worst of COVID-19’s impact, yet the number of those vaccinated remains low.

In response to this and as case numbers trend downward, advocates are now changing the way they connect with the Latino community who are eligible to get the vaccine.

“We decided once the stay-at-home orders were lifted, we decided to shift our outreach to in-person outreach,” said CEO of the Chicano Federation, Nancy Maldonado. “We knew it was time to go to these high traffic areas such as grocery stores, and have promotoras who speak Spanish, who are part of the community sharing that information.”

Promotoras have been serving the San Diego community for decades but Maldonado said their role has become even more critical. Chicano Federation is leading the San Diego Latino Health Coalition in preparing promotoras with the right resources and information to help boost the numbers of Latinos being vaccinated.

While the Hispanic community makes up one third of San Diego County’s population, just 15% of vaccinations have been administered to their population. Promotoras are not only meeting one-on-one with community members but they are helping them to book appointments and provide transportation to vaccination sites.

“I think it’s important because they are trusted community members and they speak the language, they can speak in terms of regular people who may not have medical background,” Maldonado said. “They are also trained to answer questions, give information on where to go to get vaccines.”

A tireless community advocate serving in the promotora community of City Heights for 15 years is Miriam Rodriguez. Rodriguez says her work stems from understanding firsthand the challenges some people face accessing healthcare.

“It’s a passion for me, I grew up in Los Angeles, my mom was an immigrant and I definitely got to see her firsthand trying to get information, trying to get into a clinic,” Rodriguez said. “When COVID hit, first as a parent, first as a mom, I’m worried for my neighbors, how are they getting information in their language?”

Rodriguez has continued to utilize her own resources and connections to champion for people in her own community. Her message to everyone she meets is that health comes first. Rotary Club awarded her their Peacemaker of the Year Award for her continued contributions.

“I definitely got to see the gaps that some people face but also the opportunities,” Rodriguez said. “I feel that’s how I can help, with the talents and opportunities used for good.”

It’s talents and opportunities that County Supervisor Nora Vargas wants to further invest in. Vargas says promotora pilot programs have been launched in National City, San Ysidro and Imperial Beach, with plans to expand county-wide.

“I know firsthand the impact these role models can have in the community, when people not only receive the message from trusted messengers, but they are reaching out to our senior communities and communities who have language barriers,” Vargas said. “What I want the community to know is that they have an advocate and a champion and one of them is sitting on the Board of Supervisors who knows first hand the inequities they have faced for years.”

Vargas said that while advocacy must continue to reach people in underserved communities, pressure has to be put on the Biden Administration to allocate sufficient supplies to San Diego.

“Right now, that is the biggest issue that is impacting the equity of the distribution system, is the fact that we don’t have enough vaccines,” Vargas said.

Certainly the issue over lack of doses is something that every community is struggling with, but Vargas points out the state’s website, www.myturn.ca.org  is now available in Spanish. She is encouraging the public to utilize that resource and be ready to stand in line when their time comes.

In addition, next week the San Diego Health Coalition is going to be hosting a virtual town hall in both English and Spanish.

More information can be found here: https://chicanofederation.org/sdlatinohealth

KUSI’s Hunter Sowards is live downtown with more on promotoras’ efforts to achieve vaccine equity in Latino communities.

Latino Vaccine Equity 2

Latino Vaccine Equity

Categories: Coronavirus, Health, Local San Diego News