SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – In an effort to boost the vaccination efforts within the Hispanic community in Utah, leaders and officials are bringing clinics to the popular Latinx grocery store, Rancho Market, throughout the month of June.
They’re also making the vaccination experience as easy and enjoyable as possible by making the setting a festive event with plenty of Latinx flavor, in addition to providing guidance on a variety of other issues, such as rent assistance and other health programs.
“We’re hoping to just really create a good wraparound experience to build community within those that attend and also to have resource connection for folks that are needing additional assistance in certain areas of their life,” Claudia Loayza, special projects and community engagement coordinator at the Division of Multicultural Affairs, tells ABC4.
The Hispanic population in Utah has been especially affected by COVID-19 during the pandemic. According to the state’s Coronavirus case counts, while the Hispanic or Latinx community makes up 14.6% of Utah’s population, the group has accounted for more than 20% of the reported cases of COVID-19.
Even now that vaccines are readily available, the rate at which Hispanics in Utah are receiving a dose is quite low, compared to the population and infection within the group. According to the Utah Department of Health, just 38.5% of Hispanic people in Utah have received at least one dose of a vaccine with only 9.2% of all vaccinated folks in the state being of the Hispanic ethnicity.
According to Loayza, who was born in Utah to parents from Mexico and Peru, there are many cultural reasons why a Latinx person may be apprehensive to get a vaccine shot. Loayza says some issues such as mental health, which has been a developing adverse effect of the pandemic, is somewhat “taboo” in the Hispanic community. She also adds that for many of Latinx heritage, getting a helping hand, even in the form of a preventative shot, can be difficult.
“The act of reaching out for help sometimes for a couple folks can be seen as a weakness or can be seen as a way of not being able to support yourself, which I know is a little hard for folks to understand,” Loayza explains.
Also, some undocumented Latinx community members may be concerned that getting a shot and giving their information to a government entity may jeopardize their immigration status in the United States.
To all ends, the “Fiesta Clinics,” as they will be known, are intended to be as welcoming, inviting, and unintrusive as possible to build trust with vaccine-hesitant Hispanic folks in Utah. Loayza assures that only very basic contact information will be gathered to remind those who choose the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to get their second dose when suggested. The Johnson & Johnson shot will also be available at the Fiesta Clinics. All those eligible for a shot, including those 12 and over for the Pzifer vaccine, will be able to get it at no cost.
Of course, putting the Fiesta Clinics near a marketplace that primarily serves the Latinx population was a strategic choice by the Division of Multicultural Affairs. It’s hoped that as a bonus, the event will also be a boom to the Hispanic-owned business.
“That’s really been the guiding idea to make sure that the locations in which these clinics take place are already gathering places that the community goes to interest. And then at the same time, continue to build partnerships with these organizations that are doing so much work in investing in the spaces in the communities in which they are located,” Loayza explains.
Making the event as fun as possible, with balloons, prizes, and music, was also intended to remind its patrons of the importance of getting the vaccine, so that members of the Hispanic community can get back to their cultural celebrations as quickly as possible.
“We really want to make sure that our community knows that the way back to a sense of normal is through getting vaccinated to reach herd immunity together,” Loayza says. “I know there are so many traditions and community gatherings and celebrations that I want to get back to that our community has been so deeply rooted in.”
Las Clinicas Móvil de vacunación estaran funcionando al Rancho Market en Millcreek desde 3 hasta 6 del sábado. No se require cita previa para recibir una vacuna. Siga @EmergenicasUtah en Facebook o Instagram para más información.