FLINT, Michigan -- In Michigan, less than half the Latinx population
is vaccinated for COVID-19. Enrique Rodriguez, 71, an executive board member for Flint’s Latinx Technology and Community Center, is working on breaking down barriers that are preventing the Latinx population from obtaining vaccines.
In Genessee County
, approximately 25% of the overall population has been vaccinated. However, for Hispanic residents, things like language barriers, economic relief for low-wage essential workers, and a lack of clear or bilingual information on vaccination sites is keeping rates down.
The Latinx Center’s director Asa Zuccaro and other team members are providing clear communication and education to the Latinx community in Flint to increase vaccination numbers in their outreach efforts.
According to the American Medical Assocation’s
recent Latinx-COVID-19 report, The Latinx population accounts for 18% of the U.S. population and accounts for 33% of the COVID-19 cases, revealing a disproportionate toll on this group.
According Rodriguez, the greatest barriers hindering the Latinx community in Flint from getting the vaccine are a lack of trust in the efficacy of the vaccines, a lack of transportation to vaccine clinics, a fear of needing to have insurance amongst undocumented immigrants, and not knowing where to go for the vaccine clinics.
For the transportation barrier, there is a local resource available -- MTA’s Rides to Wellness
has partnered with the Genesee County Health Department to provide free rides to vaccination appointments. Residents should follow the Health Department’s procedure for signing up to get a vaccine appointment. At the time the Health Department calls the resident with their appointment time, they should let the Health Department staff know they need transportation to their appointment. The Health Department will schedule their ride at that time and confirm the pick-up time with the resident. The MTA also has a survey open on its website in Spanish
for feedback on how to improve transportation services in Flint.
The Genesee County Health Department also has Spanish COVID-19 information on its website
. The Latinx Center in Flint is helping Flint residents register for vaccinations and providing webinars for the community to attend and providing the latest COVID-19 information
in Spanish on their website. Hamilton Health Network is also providing registration to Latinx residents in Spanish
online for the vaccine as well.
Rodriguez, originally from the Bronx in New York City, moved to Flint when he was 10 years old. His personal background in overcoming language barriers as a child in Flint made him passionate about the Spanish-speaking community here. When the former Spanish Speaking Information Center was open, Rodriguez was the chairman of the S.S.I.C. and continues his work for the Latinx community today.
“I remember being labeled and made fun of for not speaking English,” said Rodriguez about entering Flint schools as a child. “When I moved here, I spoke very little English. I learned to speak English by playing with friends on the playground.”