Leaders in the Hispanic community said a language barrier is a big reason for health care inequity during the pandemic. This Hispanic Heritage Month they want to raise awareness.
Yuliana Reyes, the Director of Health with the Latino Community Development Agency said Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for celebration; but it's also important to recognize the struggles within the community like access to health care and COVID-19 vaccines.
“It has helped me understand all of the necessities in Venezuela but also here in Oklahoma where I live,” said Carmen Bivenes with the Latino Agency.
For many, identifying as Latino comes with a sense of pride and a big responsibility.
“Being a part of this great country but bringing those unique experiences and that unique perspective, having parents and family that come from outside of this country,” said Alfredo Melchor, OCCHD communications coordinator.
“I know how to blend into different cultures and that has made me as a person just richer and I’ve been able to grow as a person too,” said Reyes.
The director of health said during the pandemic “most of the Hispanics were left out in the initial messages. Some hospitals don’t even have translators for Spanish speakers.”
Melchor, who works with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department has been instrumental in bridging the gap.
“Towards the beginning of the year when vaccines were first available to everyone the Hispanic and Latinx community was in the single digits and really trailing behind everyone,” said Melchor.
According to OCCHD, close to 40% are fully vaccinated.
“Going out to festivals, going to churches and things like that will only help continue closing that gap,” said Melchor.
The Latino Community Development Agency is gearing up for their vaccination clinic on Thursday September 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We speak Spanish, it is free. We will ask them their name and their age just because that is written on your vaccine card,” said Reyes.
Those that can’t make it can visit the Latino Community Development Agency at any time and get vaccinated.