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KCBX News aims to provide our audience with the latest local and regional information and updates on the coronavirus and COVID-19. We will update this post as new information becomes available.Click on the link in the county name to find important public health resources in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Monterey counties.Click HERE to view a COVID-19 case map of San Luis Obispo County.CLICK HERE TO SEE A TIMELINE ARCHIVE OF EARLIER CORONAVIRUS-RELATED INFORMATION.

Local, national efforts continue to bridge vaccination gap in Latinx community

Courtesy: WhatsApp
Facebook has a national initiative underway to help increase vaccinations in the Latinx community through the messaging platform WhatsApp.

In San Luis Obispo County and across the nation, agencies and organizations are working to address the health disparity between Hispanic and white people while increasing the COVID-19 vaccination rate among the Hispanic community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 63 percent of known COVID-19 infections in California are among the Hispanic community, while the same population accounts for 29 percent of vaccinations.

The CDC also reports Hispanic and Latinx individuals are two times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than white people in the United States.

San Luis Obispo County Public Health Information Officer Michelle Shoresman said bridging the gap between the vaccination rates of minority groups and the white population is one of the highest ongoing priorities for the department.

The Public Health Department has developed a number of initiatives to keep the Latinx community and other minority populations informed about COVID-19 preventive measures, testing and vaccines throughout the pandemic.

In a statement to KCBX, Shoresman said, in part:

‘We continue many of these initiatives today, with a continued focus on sharing information, but also on planning and scheduling vaccination clinics for these populations… Our farm worker task force also continues to meet to plan additional events and outreach.’

The department also works closely with other organizations to provide give-aways of masks and hand sanitizer and dispel myths about the vaccine. Shoresman said the Public Health Department issues all COVID-19 materials in both English and Spanish.

Now, Facebook has a national initiative underway — in partnership with the CDC and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — to help increase vaccinations in the Latinx community through the messaging platform WhatsApp.

The initiative is active in SLO County. Anyone can send a text in Spanish through Whatsapp to find out where to get a vaccine in their area. They can use the app to arrange a free ride with Uber or Lyft to get the vaccine. People can also get answers to frequently asked questions from the CDC.

Ashley Quintana works on community engagement efforts with Facebook. She said the app is really popular with Spanish-speaking communities and Facebook is hoping to provide people with the right information on a platform they are already using heavily.

“I use it to communicate with my family in Mexico. So many of my friends use it day to day,” Quintana said. “We hope that this will be a great application for people to have it all in one place. I think that’s the key thing — to make sure people have the right information and resources to get vaccinated.”

Facebook says it has no estimate for how long this initiative will be active.

You can access the vaccine finder here.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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