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A personal mission and a partnership to get the Latino community vaccinated against COVID-19

Humberto Orozco is a community educator at Emory. He's pushing to get information about the vaccine into the Latino community - to keep everyone safe.

ATLANTA — The demand for the COVID-19 vaccine in Georgia has been high, causing appointments to rapidly fill up.

But, Humberto Orozco, in Atlanta, considers himself fortunate to have gotten his shots. He’s a community educator at Emory University School of Medicine.

“I went ahead and did it, because I not only wanted to protect myself but I wanted to protect my coworkers,” Orozco said.

Also important for him, is protecting his family.

That’s why the Latino Community Fund featured Orozco on their social media - in hopes of encouraging other Latinos to learn about the vaccine, and hopefully get it.

“I just did my homework, and looked up those potential side-effects, and then provided them reassurance, once I did take the vaccine,” he explained.

He said that was a common question his family members asked.

According to researchers at the Brookings Institution, the potential for negative long-term health effects associated with COVID vaccine was the top concern among Latino residents surveyed.

Genesis Castro works with the Latino Community Fund. She said they’ve put efforts into education campaigns and work to build trust, and answer vaccine questions - especially for those who only speak Spanish.

“Our staff meets with doctors and talk about the best messaging that works when it comes to vaccines," she explained. "The challenge is getting it from technical English to Spanish, and then getting it to the kind of Spanish that our parents or most people speak."

That messaging is crucial. CEO of the Latin American Association, Santiago Marquez, said the COVID-19 numbers in the Latino community are alarming.

CDC data shows there are four times more Hispanic or Latino persons being hospitalized in America from COVID-19 - and dying nearly three times more - compared to white Americans.

So, gaining trust by fighting misinformation is key.

“We’ll work with the public health department here in Georgia,. We’ll work hand in hand with them as they’re putting out information. Making sure the information is in Spanish,” Marquez assured.

His organization is already doing that by holding Facebook livestreams with Dr. Kathleen Toomey and translating materials.

Orozco said if education and information is accessible, it will help lead people to making the right choices.

“There’s a lot of value in messaging that resonates with a wide-range of people,” he said.

The Latino American Association said they also have translators on-hand who can help answer any questions residents have. 

The Latino community fund has recently partnered with another organization and the Mexican consulate to facilitate vaccinations in the future.