King County non-profit fights against COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Villa Comunitaria, a non-profit inside the South Park Neighborhood Center is doing a lot of outreach and convincing lately.

"The information has to get out there somehow," Anna Soltero said.

Soltero said Villa Comunitaria has registered more than 400 people for the COVID-19 vaccine, many of them from the Latino community.

But Soltero said there are some who are hesitant because of conspiracy theories on social media.

"False information that it mutates your genes all that false information is being shared," Soltero said.

But there is a bigger roadblock to the vaccine than misinformation for the group. 

"Our biggest challenge right now is to find these people who qualify," Soltero said.

With traditional outreach efforts on hold due to the pandemic, it has been challenging trying to reach the people who need help registering for the shots especially those in the older population.

Washington State has an online vaccine locator tool that shows you available appointments near you. But the Dept. of Health says language barriers and transportation access is still a problem for some.

"Very much acutely aware of the challenges, there isn’t just one approach," Dan Laster with DOH said.

But they also cannot deny aversion to the vaccine that could partly be the reason why 28% of Washingtonians who are 65-years-old and older are still not vaccinated. That’s 330,000 people.

"Hesitancy in all populations and all groups in the state of Washington so we have to continue to fight this fight and it’s an important one," Dr. Umair Shah said.

Soltero said she’s not surprised about the number of unvaccinated people. She is encouraging employers and schools to play more of a role to educate and spread the word.

"Especially school districts there are a lot of families who know a lot of people through school districts," Soltero said.

DOH says next week they will have more information about Sound Transit and Pierce Transit providing free transportation services to vaccine appointments. The state is partnering with a volunteer group to build a text system specifically aimed at reaching the Latino population.

If you are eligible now and need a vaccine you can call 800-525-0127.

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