There’s no shortage of demand for COVID vaccines in the Hispanic community, according to a new survey of Americans who have yet to receive doses. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey found that of Hispanic adult respondents, 33% said they want a vaccine as soon as possible, more than twice the percentage of white adults surveyed. The Hispanic community also has the lowest rate of people most skeptical of getting a vaccine compared with both white and Black Americans.
The trouble is that vaccine access remains a major barrier for Hispanic and Latinx communities.
There’s a distinct societal reason linked to Hispanic communities’ eagerness to get vaccinated against COVID: They have seen what the disease has done to their families, friends, and neighbors.
The coronavirus may be blind to race and ethnicity, but it certainly has a way of taking advantage of long-festering health inequities such as reduced access to medical resources and social determinants of health that make underserved communities more vulnerable to a pandemic. These can encompass a history of living in regions with few opportunities to buy healthy foods and breathe clean air, and other health problems that are directly associated with low-income communities. Genetics may also play a factor with a new pathogen.
But the reality is that Hispanic Americans have had a particularly traumatic experience with the pandemic. “Nearly three in 10 (28%) of Hispanic adults say they or someone in their household has tested positive for coronavirus, higher than the shares of Black (21%) and White adults (18%),” according to KFF’s survey. “This share rises among Hispanic adults born outside the United States, including 40% of the potentially undocumented.”
Procuring a shot presents its own set of problems. For instance, potentially undocumented immigrants are significantly less likely to have received a COVID vaccine even if they want one.
Caution surrounding immigration status and its interplay with government services appears to have pushed an increasing share of Hispanics toward community health systems for their vaccinations. In fact, “over one in five (22%) vaccinated Hispanic adults reported getting their vaccine at a community health clinic, twice the share of white (11%) and Black (10%) vaccinated adults who report the same.”
Previous research has shown that Hispanic and Latinx communities are generally more dependent on community health workers and volunteers than other demographics in order to address medical problems. That relationship has taken on special significance during the COVID immunization campaign.
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