By Rachell Sanchez-Smith
Amid the low COVID-19 vaccination rates for Hispanics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is teaming up with the Mexican Consulate to sponsor a vaccination clinic this weekend in Little Rock.
The clinic is aimed at meeting a pressing need in the Hispanic community through bilingual outreach and use of established community leaders. Less than 6% of Hispanics in Arkansas have received some vaccine shot versus 73% of the white population as of June 1, according to Arkansas Department of Health data.
There are many reasons for the unequal COVID-19 vaccination rates ranging from misinformation on social media to lack of communication to Spanish-speaking people.
“That communication barrier is difficult,” said Deborah Hutts, an assistant nursing director of integrated medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, or UAMS.
UAMS, the Mexican Consulate, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and St. Vincent Spiritual Center are hosting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Saturday June 5 at the St. Vincent Spiritual Center, 401 N. Redwood Street in North Little Rock, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Patients must be 16 or older and there are no out-of-pocket costs for the vaccine appointment. While not a requirement, UAMS health does encourage patients to bring photo identification and insurance cards.
The clinic will have translators and bilingual staff to speak to minority communities in their own language. “It’s much more personal and warm and friendly to have another live human beside you, helping translate” Hutts said.
One challenge for any vaccination clinic now involves getting people to show up, she said. The last UAMS vaccine clinic only had three people scheduled ahead of the event, she added.
“When we first started doing community events. We had far more demand than we had resources, now it’s kind of flipped, we have a lot more vaccines than we have people who are willing to take a vaccine.” Hutts said.
The medical community is reaching out to people at baseball games, state parks and other public events to offer the vaccine. About 38% of the Arkansas population ages 12 and up have been fully immunized, according to ADH data from June 1. Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“Now we have to focus on the people who maybe are willing to take the vaccine, but they have not made it a priority,” Hutts said.