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Mecklenburg County's Latino community greatly impacted by virus

Health leaders are working on ways to get the shot into more arms. One key area of focus: trust

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — The pandemic is hitting Latinos particularly hard.

The Camino Community Center, a local nonprofit helping serve low-income Latino families recently conducted a study showing the impact of COVID-19 on the Mecklenburg County Latino Immigrant Community.

Since the virus can reach every community, so must the message to stop it. 

"They were having issues communicating their symptoms and their questions because they were only offered in the English language," said Dr. Carla Fallas of the Camino Clinic.

The Mecklenburg County Latino community has been disproportionately impacted by the virus physically, financially, and mentally. 

"It's been heartbreaking to witness these tragedies," Dr. Fallas said. 

According to the study, 77% of participants reported their household income decreased, 64% reported a member of their household lost their job, and 71% had a difficult time receiving food.

"Over 23,000 people received food through our food pantry this is a 300% increase from last year," executive director of Camino Community Center Sharisse Johnson said. 

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.

It's been a hurdle getting Latinos to get the vaccine, but that doesn't mean they don't want it. 

The study also shows 68% of participants will likely get the vaccine. 

"There's this misnomer in the community that's saying 'oh no, Latinos don't want to get the vaccine', but that's not accurate, apparently we do want to get the vaccine," Johnson said. 

But there are barriers including lack of trust and education about the vaccine, followed by a lack of health insurance or being an undocumented immigrant.

"I need somebody that speaks my language, I need it the way I can receive it, and I need to ask questions and where do I go for that if I have fear?" Johnson said.

The Camino Community Center is now asking for help to reach more vulnerable communities. 

"To be able to close that gap we need additional funding, we need additional resources," Chief Public Affairs Officer, Tim Hagler said.

The organization is working with the Mecklenburg County Health Department to vaccinate the Latino community.

So far, they've administered 80 shots. They hope to have more clinics in the future. 

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.  

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