Health

Group to use $2.5 million award to vaccinate more Latinos against Covid


Latinos have made progress in increasing their vaccination rates but are still disproportionately infected with the coronavirus, according to some of the latest data.

A U.S.-Mexico philanthropic group that has partnered with Mexican consulates and nonprofit organizations hopes a $2.5 million award will help further whittle the number of unvaccinated people.

Andy Carey, executive director of the U.S.-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership, said a $2.5 million award from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation will be used to help reach a goal of vaccinating over 1 million people.

Carey said despite increases in vaccinations among Latinos, “we are still lagging in 35 of the 50 states.” Many of unvaccinated people are undocumented and have mistaken beliefs that they must show proof of insurance, citizenship or have a Social Security number.

A lot of misinformation and disinformation regarding vaccines also is being circulated through Spanish-language media and through social media targeting Latinos.

“There is significant fear. Some people think that Bill Gates is trying to put a chip in their arm,” Carey said, adding that the assertion is untrue.

Not all states and counties report race and ethnicity data with vaccinations. Of 122,530,497 fully vaccinated Americans whose race and ethnicity was reported as of Wednesday, 16.7 percent, or 20,457,403, were Latino or Hispanic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Carey said the partnership will divide the $2.5 million in $30,000 grants to distribute among community agencies around the U.S. that work with Latinos and undocumented immigrants.

Groups will be asked for proposals, and the money should begin to be distributed in about a month, he said.

“We are going to continue to raise money to support this effort. This need is so important,” Carey said.

The U.S.-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership began in 2008 and is based in California, although it works with groups in communities all along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border and across the border in Mexico.

The partnership has worked with Ventanilla de Salud, a program based in the Mexican consulates that provides health and wellness services such as flu shots, cancer screening, blood pressure tests and other basic prevention to the Mexican diaspora in the U.S.

“There are 3.5 million Mexican nationals residing in the U.S.,” Carey said. “Mexico has a larger diplomatic presence than any other country. For us, working with the consulate is because it’s an immigration safe zone.”

Separately, there have been other U.S.-Mexico vaccination efforts along the border. 

Over the summer, El Paso County in Texas vaccinated 32,000 Mexicans who work in manufacturing plants across the border in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, said Nicole Ruiz, senior policy adviser for El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego. 

The factories, known as maquiladoras, are owned by U.S. or foreign investors and use imported materials to assemble and process goods for export. Workers were bused to a federal port of entry for the vaccinations.

The Texas border cities of McAllen, Hidalgo and Mission partnered with the city of Nuevo León, Mexico, to vaccinate maquiladora workers in that area, as well.

The Biden administration has lifted some restrictions on cross-border travel. Next month, travelers who show proof of vaccination for Covid-19 will be allowed to enter

Samaniego, the El Paso County judge, has said he’d like to see the U.S. allow others to enter and be vaccinated on the U.S. side, Border Report reported.

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