No longer lost in translation: Augusta University doctor teams with local leaders to ensure Hispanic communities get immunizedOctober 6, 20212 min read
It is in the news daily the awareness campaigns are everywhere – but for Spanish-speaking Americans, a lot of the information on COVID-19 and vaccination efforts against the disease weren’t reaching home. That was leaving a large swath of the population unprotected against the virus.
Pastor Angel Maestre takes to the airwaves for his radio show, 97 Oasis, each week, speaking about faith to his Spanish-speaking audience. When COVID-19 vaccines rolled out, he began including teachings about health and science.
“It was my duty as a leader,” Maestre says.
Vaccination rates among the Hispanic population were extremely low at the time. In Richmond County, less than 10 percent of this community was vaccinated. Maestre partnered with Dr. Jose Vaszquez, an infectious diseases physician at Augusta University Health. Vazquez began appearing on Maestre’s radio show. He also spoke and answered questions at Maestre’s church, Centro Cristiano Oasis de Bendicion.
“The Hispanic community has been one of the toughest communities to get vaccinated,” Vasquez says. “They’re not anti-vaxxers. But, most of the education put out there is in English. A lot of it is not in Spanish. So, they didn’t understand.”
According to Vazquez, the top three concerns among the Hispanic community were that the COVID-19 vaccine contained fetal tissue, caused infertility and could result in undocumented immigrants encountering problems with immigration authorities.
“They thought if we took their name and number, that ICE or immigration would come and take them, which is not true.”
Vazquez eased concerns, and vaccination rates increased quickly.
“I’m proud to say because of our outreach programs with some of our partners, specifically going through the churches, that it has actually increased to 30 to 35 percent.”
Are you a journalist looking to know more about how COVID-19 is impacting Hispanic communities and what else can be done to ensure every person in America has access to vaccines?
That’s where Augusta University can help. Dr. Jose Vazquez, division chief and professor of medicine in the Medical College of Georgia, is an expert in the realm of infectious diseases. He studies and treats infectious diseases, including antibiotic-resistant superbugs and fungal infections.
He has been a reliable source for local, statewide and national media regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Dr. Vazquez is available to speak with media regarding this topic – simply click on his icon to arrange an interview.
Jose Vazquez Infectious Diseases
Dr. Jose Vazquez studies and treats infectious diseases, including COVID-19, antibiotic-resistant superbugs and fungal infections.