Studies show Latinos skeptical about COVID-19 vaccine, distribution

Studies are showing Latinos from a variety of backgrounds are among the most skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccine even though they are among the groups most likely to be hospitalized or die from the disease.

Dr. Nicole Fortuna with Sixteenth Street Community Health Center tells FOX6 News she has been answering plenty of vaccine questions from patients.

"Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation on social media," Dr. Fortuna explained. "You want to make sure you go to a trusted source."

Dr. Nicole Fortuna

It is no secret -- there is a limited amount of vaccine available. In Milwaukee County, data shows the majority of COVID-19 vaccinations so far have gone to white residents. It is a fact that concerns city leaders like Mayor Tom Barrett. 

"This is something that demands that we have equity," Mayor Barrett said during a recent city/county COVID-19 health briefing.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

Milwaukee County health officials hope to see a shift in the data in the coming weeks as the vaccine opens up to more people. They say the data looks like this for now because the majority of frontline workers to receive the vaccine so far are white.

But there’s another concern that walks hand in hand with vaccine distribution, uncertainty.

 "We have to find people who can engender trust and say this is safe for you," Barrett explained.

One Milwaukee man told FOX6 News what he is hearing from the community. 

"I think the majority of Hispanics don’t want to, they’re afraid. They don’t want to get it until others do and they rather wait until the end," said Jose de Jesus Larios. 

Jose de Jesus Larios

Larios said it is hard to pinpoint where the hesitation is coming from. Something that gives him comfort is seeing first responders get the vaccine. 

"I think it’s really good they are giving it to the most important people. If it wasn't (safe) they wouldn't have given it to, doctors, police, and firefighters," Larios explained.

Research from the CDC available through late last month showed Latinos were four times more likely than whites to be hospitalized with COVID-19 -- and nearly three times more likely to die. Those numbers are higher than any other race or ethnicity.

On Feb. 12, the CDC updated iots numbers, showing improvements in both of these categories.

Debunking one of the most common misconceptions, Dr. Fortuna said the vaccine does not give you a dose of the coronavirus.

"Now is the best time to get the vaccine," Dr. Fortuna explained. "This is MRNA. This is just a little message to your body to start fighting against the virus."

Dr. Fortuna said the vaccine was able to roll out faster than most because the science behind it has been studied for years. She said if you feel achy or feverish after a dose, it is your body building up immunity.

Dr. Fortuna advises those with a history of allergies or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding to have a conversation with their doctor before getting their shot. However, the doctor strongly advises people not to skip their turn to get the vaccine.

"It’s good to get the vaccine now because we are starting to see changes in the virus," Dr. Fortuna explained. "Those mutations have made it easier for the virus to spread and get people sick."

If you have doubts or fear over the vaccine, doctors urge you to look for facts – instead of misconceptions or opinions.

"If you have any questions reach out to your doctor or medical professional," Dr. Fortuna said.

Recently, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to ensure an equitable pandemic response and recovery plan. Among the goals listed is making vaccines as accessible and equitable as possible.

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