BRAZOS COUNTY, TEXAS — Obtaining reliable information pertaining to the vaccine, and even having equal accessibility to get your shot, can be tricky for a lot of people with a wealth of information out there.
It’s no secret that not everyone has access to the internet or even the ability to maneuver an email account.
Figuring out how to get your shot or where to go is even more daunting for those representing minority groups.
The Brazos County vaccination hub’s website has the option to interpret information in English or Spanish, their call center has Spanish and English call takers and they are working on a new avenue to help serve the Hispanic community, including a drive-thru.
“We are creating a drive thru vaccination site out in Benchley. Benchley is in the northern part of the county just north of Lake Bryan, primarily a Hispanic community. It’s just a matter or pinning down an actual date that we are going to do it,” Chief Stewart, who leads the COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Brazos County said.
Chief Stewart says the hub has a ton of resources to make sure everyone, no matter race or ethnicity, gets the shot if they want one.
“The call center is staffed with Spanish language call takers, they can talk to folks in their native language, answer and questions they may have and make their appointment for them.”
“They can also call you ahead of time to remind you of your appointment,” Chief Stewart added.
Stewart says the outreach is there, but the challenge is getting people to the hub.
He also said some information of minorities being reluctant to get the vaccine doesn’t necessarily paint the whole story.
“There is some of that…but I don’t think it’s extensive. It’s just a matter of either us going to them, setting up these mobile vaccination sites or somehow getting them to the hub,” Stewart added.
A leader in the Hispanic community, Jaime Cavazos, President of the Hispanic Forum of Bryan College Station, says that much of the Hispanic population does want the shot, but getting people through the doors is the challenge.
“I would say the majority of them really want to get the vaccine. They just don’t know how or need the help,” Jaime Cavazos said.
Cavasos says they host a vaccine registration information session to help with in-person registration.
Cavasos said they try to help individuals who may not have access to email and assist to inform and educate individuals on the process.
They also help get people on the waiting list where United Way can call them during the week and talk to them in Spanish or English in order to set up the appointment.
On Saturdays between 2-5pm, Cavasos said the group is out at the La Michoacana Meat Market on HWY 21 and Texas Avenue for anyone who needs additional help.
“We just hope we can bridge everybody. We know there’s a lot of people that call the United Way hotline, we know there are others who, as soon as they hear there’s a website, they can manage the website and register themselves and we also understand there maybe they are not good with phones or not good with computers, so we just gotta give them that in-person opportunity,” Cavazos added.
Dora Cruzan, a College Station resident and retired member of the Social Service community, says she and her mother got their shot before the hub opened.
She’s glad to see resources and more information become available, but says having readily available information wasn’t always the case.
“My mom and I both got the appointment at St. Joseph before it was a hub because then it was being finally promoted that anybody could register at St. Joseph regardless if you were a patient there.”
Cruzan, also president of the Brazos Valley Amigos, says their organization received many calls pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine. People were wanting their shot, but couldn’t find out how to get it.
“We were concerned for the people that we work with, that we know don’t use internet, my mom doesn’t use email, we knew so many people in our group of senior citizens, so we were worried about them,” Cruzan said.
Brazos Valley Amigos, a Senior Citizen Advocacy Group, was concerned that many didn’t have access to the internet or access to the hub site.
Cruzan says they brought their concerns to the hub. The 2-1-1 number was then established to help facilitate appointments.
“A lot of people aren’t hearing enough information. There is a lot of hesitation on the part of some, but really once we let people know that we were out there to assist them by doing these registration events…It’s like build it and they will come. We had really good response to the opportunities once they heard about it,” Cruzan added.
Race/ethnicity was available for almost 53% of the CDC data from nearly 75 million people with at least 1 dose of the vaccine. Of that group, 66% represent the white/non-hispanic population, 8.7% are Latino/Hispanic and 7.7% are Black.
Regardless what box you check, Chief Stewart says they are averaging a 12%-14% no show with their first doses, so if you make an appointment, please make sure you show up.
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