Senate Latino Democrats warn about low Hispanic vaccination rates

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 Padilla (Calif.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.) and Ben Ray Lujan (N.M.) wrote on Friday to Health Secretary Xavier Becerra and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, 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.

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.

Tags Alex Padilla Ben Ray Lujan Bob Menendez Catherine Cortez Masto Coronavirus COVID-19 Latino Marty Walsh vaccination rates Vaccine Xavier Becerra

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