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Health Highlights: May 14, 2021

Many Hispanic Americans Want to Get COVID-19 Vaccine, But Haven't

Some of the lowest U.S. COVID-19 vaccination rates are among Hispanics, but not because they don't want the vaccine, according to a new survey, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Rather, the low vaccination rates are the result of misinformation about cost and access, worries about employment, and immigration issues, the latest edition of the Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor finds.

Earlier polls suggested that Hispanics were wary about the vaccine, but the latest survey found that hesitation is declining.

"With so many unvaccinated Hispanic adults eager to get a shot, there's an opportunity to further close the gap in vaccination rates by addressing worries about costs and practical concerns such as time off work," Liz Hamel, a vice president of the foundation and director of public opinion and survey research, told the Times.

In fact, 33% of unvaccinated Hispanics said they wanted the vaccine as soon as possible, compared with 16% of the unvaccinated whites and 17% of the unvaccinated Blacks.

Among Hispanics, 47% had gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, compared with 60% of whites and 51% of Blacks.

"The report shows that many Latinos have a high motivation to get vaccinated," said Kurt Organista, a professor of social welfare at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Times. "They live in multigenerational households and cramped quarters. They want to protect their families."

He added, "they work a lot -- their work participation rates are higher than average Americans -- so they don't want to jeopardize their jobs by taking time off to get vaccinated."

Although COVID-19 vaccines are free, 50% of unvaccinated Hispanics thought they would have to pay for the shot and 75% feared they would have to miss work because of side effects.

About 18% of Hispanics who responded to the survey said they did not have permanent resident status in the United States.

The Biden administration and local public health officials said that the shots are available to anyone regardless of immigration status, but more than half of these responders were unsure if they were eligible to get the shots. Nearly 40% feared they would have to have government identification to qualify.

About a third feared that getting the shot would jeopardize their immigration status or that of a family member.The report also noted the impact the pandemic had on Hispanic families, which may explain why they want to be vaccinated.

About 38% of Hispanic adults said a relative or close friend had died from COVID-19, compared with 18% of whites.

Also, 75% of Hispanics feared that either they or a relative might get sick and nearly 50% said they had been affected economically by the pandemic, compared with about one-third of whites, the Times reported.

Although about a third of Hispanics wanted to get a shot as soon as possible, 35% were more reluctant.

More than 50% said they would get the shots if their employers gave them paid time off to recover from side effects, and 38 percent of this group said they would get vaccinated if their employer arranged for the shots to be distributed at work.

Also, nearly four in 10 said they would be more likely to get the shot if their employer gave them a $200 incentive to do so. Survey responders also said they would be more likely to get vaccinated if the vaccine were available at the clinics where they go for their usual health care.

"These clinics treat people irrespective of their ability to pay and immigration status," Organista told the Times. "People in the community know this. That's a big opportunity and a solution for vaccination."

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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