Upstate initiatives underway to increase COVID vaccination rates, awareness in Latinx community


SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A major initiative is underway to get more people in the Latinx community vaccinated.

A handful of entities are working to create more accessible medical services to the community and provide more accurate information around the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Araceli Hernandez-Laroche is not only teaching her students at USC Upstate but also trying to protect them against COVID along with others in her community.

“One of our community leaders called a local hospital, asking for support, for help in Spanish to see what the reaction was on the other end of the line and she was dismissed,” Founding Director of El Centro, Dr. Araceli Hernandez-Laroche said.

She is trying to break barriers like that. She said it’s stopping people in the Latinx community from getting vaccinated, a demographic that data shows has been hit hard by the pandemic.

“Less access to health professionals to that information and in the language we feel most comfortable in,” according to Dr. Hernandez-Laroche.

That’s why they are working to make this information more accessible and understandable, through virtual forums in both Spanish and English, also to get rid of misinformation.

“Maybe we feel more comfortable with the knowledge we’re receiving in our mother tongue, in Spanish and some people might not understand English all that well,” Dr. Hernandez-Laroche explained.

As Hispanic Heritage Month goes on, other entities are sharing a similar mission which includes the American Heart Association and their “Stay Fuerte for All” campaign in the Upstate.

“There is a lack of accurate Spanish language resources around COVID-19 vaccinations. We have created videos that are in both English and in Spanish,” Kelly Wilkins with the Upstate American Heart Association said.

Hernandez-Laroche told 7 News, it’s specific outreach like this that makes a difference. They’re already seeing more people get vaccinated.

“It’s so important to get back to normal but a better normal, a more equitable normal,” said Dr. Hernandez -Laroche.

Her mission continues until that normalcy, and equity is here.

A virtual information session for COVID-19 vaccines in both English and Spanish is slated for Friday, Oct. 15 at 12:30 P.M.

Below, you can find more on the American Heart Association’s campaign by clicking here.

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