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Volunteers work to boost Latino vaccination rates in North County

Every week, Deysi Merino meets volunteers in different North County neighborhoods to pass out information on COVID vaccines.

They are part of Vista Community Clinic’s “Poder Popular.”

“Poder Popular lideres have been fundamental in ensuring that the information that community members receive is trusted. We always think of them as the trusted messengers of the community,” said Merino, one of the coordinators of Poder Popular.

The group goes door to door handing out flyers in Spanish and English with information on the COVID vaccine and local testing centers.

Merino said some of the Latinos she has encountered are still hesitant over the vaccine.

“Sometimes the people that we have encountered are open to receiving the information,” she said. “A lot of the time they have questions regarding some of the myths they have heard. Such as infertility... Is this going to cause infertility.... I heard this from a friend…. So we always have a flyer to debunk these myths that they have heard.”

A community clinic in Vista has a volunteer group going door to door to convince North County Latinos to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, 10 months after being required to post prices for every medical procedure they offer, many hospitals in San Diego and across the country have failed to do so. Plus, we’ll meet San Diego Unified School Board’s first-ever high school student representative.

Vaccine Flyers 05.jpg
Matthew Bowler
Deysi Merino from Poder Popular, spent the morning walking door to door in Vista dropping off flyers in English and Spanish to educate people about the COVID vaccine, October 25, 2021.

A report by the San Diego Union Tribune showed that Latinos in North County are falling behind in getting vaccinated.

“As of late September, 87.6 percent of Latinos living in Chula Vista were fully vaccinated, according to county public health data. That compares with 51.1 percent vaccination rates in parts of North and East County that are heavily Latino,” said the report.

Poder Popular volunteers said they’ve heard all kinds of myths, have gotten called names or sometimes go ignored.

Lazaro Arenas, one of the volunteers, said, " I want to help people get vaccinated so they don't get sick. So their families don't get sick. But Latinos can be stubborn. We've gotten yelled at several times."

Despite the insults, Arenas said the group will continue their efforts.

Volunteers work to bolster vaccination rates for North County Latinos