Senate Latino Democrats warn about low Hispanic vaccination rates

Senate Latino Democrats warn about low Hispanic vaccination rates
© Greg Nash

The four Hispanic Democrats in the Senate called on Biden administration officials to expand COVID-19 vaccine availability to Latino communities, which are lagging behind other demographics in vaccination rates.

Democratic Sens. Alex PadillaAlex PadillaSchumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up Manchin signals support for immigration in budget deal Democrats hear calls to nix recess MORE (Calif.), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezLobbying world This week: Congress starts summer sprint The Innovation and Competition Act is progressive policy MORE (N.J.), Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoWestern US airports face jet fuel shortage Overnight Energy: Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee | Nevada Democrat introduces bill requiring feds to develop fire management plan | NJ requiring public water systems to replace lead pipes in 10 years Nevada Democrat introduces bill requiring feds to develop fire management plan MORE (Nev.) and Ben Ray LujanBen Ray LujanNumber of nonwhite Democratic Senate staffers ticks up from 2020 Senate Latino Democrats warn about low Hispanic vaccination rates DC statehood bill picks up Senate holdout MORE (N.M.) wrote on Friday to Health Secretary Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraCongress must fix loophole that is costing patients at the pharmacy House Democrats expand probe into political interference into CDC during Trump administration Florida asks Supreme Court to block CDC's limits on cruise ship industry MORE and Labor Secretary Marty WalshMarty WalshPoultry plant fined M over 'entirely avoidable' deaths of six workers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots On The Money: Inflation spike puts Biden on defensive | Senate Democrats hit spending speed bumps | Larry Summers huddles with WH team MORE, asking the administration to expand its vaccination outreach programs to Latino communities.

"In order to improve vaccination rates, particularly among those that have expressed an interest in receiving the vaccine, we urge the Departments of Health and Human Services and Labor to work together creatively and proactively to allocate additional resources to ensure correct and timely information is reaching Latino communities, including clarification that confidential information about immigration status will not be revealed and assurance that vaccination is free," wrote the senators.

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The senators pointed to studies that have shown Hispanic communities have relatively low vaccination rates, but unlike other groups, those low rates are not as driven by attitudes on vaccination.

Aside from vaccine hesitancy, drivers of low rates among Latinos include fears of costs, potential interaction with immigration authorities, lack of time off from work, lack of public transportation and poor government outreach.

"Recent surveys show that unvaccinated Latinos are more than twice as likely as unvaccinated Whites to want a COVID-19 vaccine, yet they report that they are reluctant to seek them out due to continued misinformation about vaccine cost, safety, and sick leave policies," wrote the senators.

While some Hispanic communities — particularly poorer communities in more remote areas — have barriers to vaccination that are difficult to overcome, some communities have not sought out vaccines out of misinformation — for instance, the belief that there is a cost or undocumented immigrants are not eligible.

Still, research shows unvaccinated Hispanics are more than twice as likely as unvaccinated whites to want access to a vaccine.