Education may be key to addressing racial disparities in Amarillo vaccination rates

Here are the steps the City of Amarillo is taking to solve the problem.

Racial disparities in vaccinations may affect the City of Amarillo's progress in fighting COVID-19

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Amarillo may be ahead of the curve when it comes to vaccination distribution but, it may be falling behind getting certain populations vaccinated.

Racial disparities in vaccinations may be backtracking Amarillo’s progress in fighting COVID-19.

When it comes to the Hispanic community, local health officials believe that misinformation and fear may be the biggest contributors to low vaccination rates.

“No one is dying as a result of getting the vaccine and we can say that clearly,” said Ginger Nelson, Amarillo mayor.

“This vaccine isn’t 100 percent but, it’s better than nothing and we do want to remember that everyone’s body is different, so their body will react differently to it,” said Marcos Nerios, prevention program coordinator, Amarillo Public Health.

According to the CDC, at the national level, vaccination rates among whites are more than five times higher than that of Hispanics.

In Amarillo, the walk-in vaccination clinic at the Civic Center reports that Caucasians are getting vaccinated at a rate of 75.6 percent while the Hispanic and Latino community is getting vaccinated at a rate of 10 percent, a difference of more than 60 percent.

According to local health officials, one of the primary reasons for this difference may be attributed to a lack of vaccine education among the Hispanic community.

“So, I can definitely say the main thing, especially when it comes to our Hispanic or Latin community, I think there’s a lot of fear, a lot of possibly maybe miscommunication throughout our community and individuals not necessarily knowing or thinking that it’s actually safe for them to take it”, said Nerios. “We definitely are doing our best to try to get as much as education material out there to individuals to prove to them that there is efficacy behind this vaccine.”

“I am concerned that the message is not getting out to our Hispanic and Latino community. You are important, your health is important to the city and we want you to come and get a vaccine,” said Mayor Nelson.

For those with concerns about their immigration status, Mayor Nelson assures it is not a determining factor for vaccine eligibility.

She also adds that the vaccination clinic has translators available and offers all materials in multiple languages.

“We’re trying very hard to provide that information to non-profit organizations as well as churches in our minority communities, really across the city, so that people have a trusted source,” said Mayor Nelson.

In addition, the City of Amarillo has been running billboard campaigns and Facebook ads targeting zip codes that have higher populations of minorities.

“We are attempting to target those areas where we do feel we have had less individuals come through,” said Nerios.

This Thursday at 6:00 p.m., city and community leaders will hold an online discussion via Zoom to answer any questions residents may have regarding the vaccine.

City and community leaders to host a community discussion forum to answer the public's questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
City and community leaders to host a community discussion forum to answer the public's questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. (Source: City of Amarillo)

There are several places where citizens can obtain reliable information about the vaccine including the City of Amarillo’s Facebook page, Youtube channel, and website.

If you have questions related to the vaccine or vaccination clinic, you can call the Mayor’s Hotline at (806) 378-6445 or visit amarilloalerts.com.

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