MILWAUKEE - The organization Forward Latino announced a statewide campaign specifically encouraging Wisconsin’s Latino community to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Studies show the largest minority group in the state is falling behind on vaccinations.
Campaign leaders said they are launching commercials and advertisements primarily in Spanish with the message that anyone 12 and older is eligible for the vaccine regardless of your insurance or citizenship status.
"Por favor vacunate", said Teresa Mercado, executive director of the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation. "Please get the vaccine."
The non-profit group's initiative is called "Por mi Familia," or "For my family" in English.
"You’re not just getting vaccinated for yourself," said Darryl Morin, national president of Forward Latino. "You are getting vaccinated por mi familia."
Leaders say the goal is to help Latinos overcome barriers when it comes to getting their shot.
"There are gaps that due remain in our communities of color as compared to our white communities," said Karen Timberlake, Wisconsin Department of Health Services secretary.
Forward Latino officials said Hispanics currently represent 7.1% of the state’s population, making them the largest minority group, but studies show the group is trailing behind when it comes to vaccines. They gave examples of some of the barriers in the way.
"The largest ones were confusion and misinformation that said individuals needed to have health insurance or a Social Security card or a government ID to get vaccinated," said Morin.
The campaign is also aimed at bridging the gap in information about vaccine eligibility.
"We also have individuals that are fearful if I take off work to go get vaccinated they will suffer some type of consequences," said Morin. "Conversely, they are equally concerned if they get sick and have to stay home they won’t have that job either."
Studies have found large shares of Hispanic adults, particularly those who are undocumented, are unaware the vaccine is free and available regardless of immigration status.
"Make an informed decision and a responsible decision, and understand it’s not just about your individual health," said Dante Gomez, Consulate of Mexico.
The campaign will be largely in Spanish, with organizers also hoping to cut through the misinformation over the vaccine on social media.
"The COVID-19 vaccine is safe it is highly effective at preventing the spread of this disease," said Timberlake.
Forward Latino and state officials are working with employers to make sure employees are able to go get their vaccine and if there’s enough demand bringing a mobile clinic to them. There is a number you can call to get vaccine information in a variety of languages: 844-684-1064.