United Voice: OCCHD Working With Latino Community Leaders To Dispel Vaccine Fears


Wednesday, January 27th 2021, 10:38 pm
By: Ashley Holden


OKLAHOMA CITY -

Some people are very hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and it includes minority groups in the Oklahoma City area.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department is trying to get essential vaccine information to these specific communities.

"There's still a lot of fear in getting vaccinated," said Erica Herrera. 

Herrara told News 9 that's what she hears when she talks and works with other Latino families in the metro. She said her and her daughter are already registered through the state's portal but she thinks many in her community are planning to hold off.

"We need to know why it's important to get vaccinated and how the vaccine works," said Herrera. 

Carla Ponce with OCCHD said the health department is working to get that information to the community specifically in Spanish.

Ponce is also turning to one place many Latinos consider a safe space: their church.

"We've worked with pretty much every church across the board," said Ponce. 

The community outreach specialist said for many who have immigrated to the U.S., their church is the closest thing they have to family.  

Ponce has been giving presentations at churches in the Oklahoma City area, and soon, OCCHD will be partnering with St. James the Greater.

"We are planning to do a Facebook live to disseminate information for people in Spanish," said Associate Pastor for St. James Rev. Cristobal De Loera.

Church leaders told News 9 one of the biggest obstacles holding the community back is misinformation.

"I think the church is bringing hope in saying, 'no, this vaccine is good,'" said the pastor. "It's important that we receive the vaccine to be able to protect ourselves and others."

Something else that holds the Latino community back from even seeking help is fear of what will happen whether they are documented or not.

Rev. Cristobal De Loera said many feel if they don't speak English, they won't be able to get the care they need. COVID and the precautions in place make communication even harder. 

Ponce wants people to know the OCCHD has bilingual representatives at all of their clinics. She told News 9 everyone is welcome, and staff does not turn people away.

Click here for more information on Oklahoma City-County Health Department clinics.

This is the first part in series about Oklahoma City's minority communities and getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

News 9 is part of a local initiative that brings all of our local media outlets together to give Oklahoma a United Voice in promoting a healthy dialogue on race. To see more stories, visit UnitedVoiceOK.org.