Apr 26, 2021 - News

Latino vaccination rates are low in Colorado despite equity efforts

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The disparities in vaccine rates continues to vex Colorado officials, representing one of the most significant setbacks in the battle against COVID-19.

Why it matters: Addressing the disparities is key to the state hitting its 75% vaccination rate goal by summer to reach herd immunity.

State of play: Hispanic residents represent 21.7% of the state's population but only 8.6% of the people with at least one vaccine dose, state data shows.

  • In Denver, the problem is more pronounced: Latinos are 30% of the city's population but only 13% have received the first dose, Denverite reports.

What's happening: The reasons for lower vaccination rates among Latinos is multifaceted, state leaders explained.

  • The state's priority list put older residents at the top and only 10% of the Latino population is over age 70.
  • Latino workers tend to work hourly jobs that make getting to a vaccine clinic more difficult.
  • In addition, many Latino residents face technological and language barriers.

What they're saying: "We are clearly aware we are falling behind in our Hispanic communities," said Brandy Emily, the state's deputy director for immunizations. "We know that we have an uphill road ... but we're committed to doing the work."

The other side: Rudy Gonzales, the executive director at Servicios de La Raza, suggested government officials are not the ones best equipped to lead outreach to Latinos, who tend to have more distrust of government.

  • Instead he wants the state to allocate resources in a way that would allow community leaders to run point.

What's next: To improve vaccine equity and make the process more accessible, state officials are retooling their efforts in partnership with community organizations.

  • A mobile clinic is traveling to reach people at job sites and grocery stores.
  • Plus: The state is rolling out a new messaging campaign in Spanish and other languages.

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