Latino community having trouble getting vaccinated across Pittsburgh area

PITTSBURGH — Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s leading infectious disease experts, said a decision will likely be made about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine by Friday.

He is expecting it will come back on the market with restrictions or warnings. However, Pittsburgh’s Latino community is having trouble getting vaccinated.

“We have no news stations, no radio station and no daily physical paper that comes out in Spanish,” said Melanie Marie Boyer, director of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

According to Boyer, the city lacks Spanish-speaking media outlets, meaning COVID-19 information -- including vaccine clinics -- aren’t widely known in Pittsburgh’s Latino population.

Over the weekend, nonprofits Casa San Jose, the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation and Central Outreach Center united to host a mobile vaccine clinic in Beechview -- where they offered the Pfizer vaccine and their services in both Spanish and Portuguese.

“People feel more comfortable coming here and being able to see people that look like them and actually get vaccinated, and that may be a positive motivation for them in spreading the word,” said Guillermo Velazquez, executive director of the PHDC.

According to Pa.’s COVID-19 dashboard, nearly 3,000 people in the Latino community have been fully vaccinated in Allegheny County. A 2019 census shows there are nearly 27,000 living in the area.

Boyer believes another reason this population is hesitant is due to a fear and distrust of the government.

Since the vaccine rollout began, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Highmark and Allegheny Health Network to offer a translation service to those wanting to get a coronavirus vaccine, which is ongoing.

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