Sep 15, 2021 - News

Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap

Percentage of Denver residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, by age
Reproduced from Denver Public Health; Chart: Axios Visuals

COVID-19 vaccination rates among Hispanic people and Latinos continue to lag behind all other ethnicities in Denver — and the division appears to be widening.

Driving the news: Over the past few weeks, city health officials have ramped up vaccine outreach at K–12 public schools to target students and their families.

  • The city launched an in-school immunization program offering free vaccines to eligible students and their relatives.
  • The intention behind the strategy is to increase vaccination rates for Latino students ages 12 to 17 while encouraging those close to them to get the shots, officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Hancock administration is hopeful that bilingual students can encourage their unvaccinated parents, who often face technological and language barriers in addition to other challenges, including access to vaccination sites and fear of missing work.

  • Throughout the pandemic, officials from multiple states such as California and Massachusetts, have leaned on children, when possible, to help parents understand health risks and the benefits of vaccinations, Axios’ Russell Contreras writes.

By the numbers: An Axios analysis found the vaccination disparity among eligible Latinos compared with white populations widened considerably from April to June, dipped slightly through July and has been on the rise since the start of August.

  • As of Sept. 12, only 44.7% of eligible Hispanic and Latino people ages 12 and older were fully vaccinated, compared with 76.9% of eligible white Denver residents, Denver Public Health figures show.

Zoom out: Across Colorado, vaccine rates among Hispanic people continue to trail behind other populations, according to data from the state’s health department.

  • Only 57% of eligible Hispanic Coloradans are immunized compared with 98% of white residents in the state.

The big picture: Although the number of Latinos getting vaccinated in some of the most populated cities in the U.S. is slowly increasing, people of color "remain less likely than their white counterparts to have received a vaccine, leaving them at increased risk, particularly as the variant spreads," according to recently released research from the Kaiser Family Foundation.


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