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Promotoras Bring Vaccination Message To San Diego's Latino Communities

A community health worker, or promotora in Spanish, talks with a man outside Murphy's Market in City Heights, Feb. 12, 2021.
Roland Lizarondo
A community health worker, or promotora in Spanish, talks with a man outside Murphy's Market in City Heights, Feb. 12, 2021.

Latinos make up the majority of the coronavirus cases in San Diego County, but they are not getting a majority of vaccinations. Officials hope sending community health workers, "promotoras" in Spanish, in areas like City Heights and the South Bay with vaccination information will change that.

"That's why promotoras' work is so important," said Miriam Rodriguez with the San Diego Latino Health Coalition. Rodriguez has been working as a promotora in the City Heights area for 15 years.

Promotoras Bring Vaccination Message To San Diego’s Latino Communities
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"It’s part of our culture," she said. "How can I help you?"

Rodriguez said in the City Heights area along there are around 45 volunteer promotoras, and teams also go to the South Bay.

"We go to different supermarkets all over the county," she said. "Not only are we listening to each other but we’re encouraging them. 'Hey I had the vaccine last week, I’m feeling great, so go ahead. Do you need help signing up? Can someone in your family help you sign up?'"

RELATED: Pilot Program Aims To Promote Coronavirus Vaccination In The South Bay

Rodriguez said there are some fears about the vaccination and potential side effects, but many here want to know when a large-scale vaccination site will be coming to City Heights.

"When is it going to be next for our people?" Rodriguez asked. "Because they are ready and want to do it."

Not everyone has easy access to transportation, so Rodriguez said officials have to bring vaccines to the community. She also said not everyone is on social media and some seniors are not online, so taking the vaccination message directly to them is key.

"We share our own experiences," Rodriguez said. "But at the same time, (we tell them) 'Call me, send me a message, we’re here for you.'"

The San Diego Latino Health Coalition is one of many groups working to make sure everyone who is eligible for a vaccination appointment is able to get one.

"We just want to make sure that they are getting information because they might not be getting it," said Verónica Macedo who works in development and community relations for the Chicano Federation. "We are trying to close that gap."

VIDEO: Promotoras Bring Vaccination Message To San Diego's Latino Communities

The Chicano Federation is sending out teams across the county to deliver vaccination information. They are also continuing to hand out supply kits for childcare providers with masks and sanitizers, via appointment only. Seniors 65 and over plus healthcare workers can book vaccination appointments through the county website.

As of Friday afternoon, the county's vaccination dashboard shows 44% of all vaccinations are going to people who identify as white, while 14% are to those identifying as Latino. Fifteen percent identify as "other race" and 12% are labeled "race and ethnicity unknown." Data through Thursday shows 56% of all San Diego County's coronavirus cases have been among Latinos, while 26% have been reported among whites.