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A Latino cartoonist is using his art to encourage vaccinations

Nationally syndicated cartoonist and artist Lalo Alcaraz is combating vaccine hesitancy through his distinctive, colorful and humorous messages.
Image: One of Alcaraz' cartoons for CovidLatino.org compares a vaccinated and non-vaccinated Latino farm worker.
One of Lalo Alcaraz's cartoons for CovidLatino.org compares a vaccinated Latino farmworker with an unvaccinated one.Lalo Alcaraz / Courtesy Lalo Alcaraz / Andrews McMeel Syndication

One prominent Latino cartoonist is using his art to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

Lalo Alcaraz, author of the first nationally syndicated Latino political cartoon strip "La Cucaracha," is creating culturally relevant art for CovidLatino.org to help disseminate information about Covid-19 vaccines and testing to Latino communities, especially in the Southwest.

“It’s right up my alley as far as something that I believe in and that is a crisis, which is vaccine hesitancy in our community, especially among campesinos,” Alcaraz said, referring to farmers.

Lalo Alcaraz at the 2nd Annual L'Attitude Conference - LatiNExt Live on Sept. 26, 2019, in San Diego.Jerod Harris / Getty Images file

A two-time Pulitzer editorial cartoon finalist for the last two years who collaborated on the wildly popular animated movie “Coco,” Alcaraz told NBC News he was excited about the project. His recent cartoon praising the gymnastic legend Simone Biles for putting her mental health first went viral.

One of his cartoons for the Covid campaign re-creates a traditional Mexican bingo-like game, Lotería, to show the benefits of getting a vaccination — from being able to travel to dating. Another cartoon shows how a Latino farmworker looks when he gets the shot, as he holds a box of cabbages, versus when he does not — holding a box full of Covid.

This cartoon re-creates a traditional Mexican bingo-like game, Lotería, to show the benefits of getting a vaccination. Lalo Alcaraz / Courtesy Lalo Alcaraz / Andrews McMeel Syndication

The campaign was spearheaded by Gilberto Lopez, an assistant professor at Arizona State University School of Transborder Studies, whose aim was to create a bilingual website along with art to break down vaccine hesitancy among Latinos. The educator hopes the website, which features animated videos in English and Spanish, debunks Covid myths that have spread in the Latino community.

A lack of reliable information, as well as disinformation and misinformation in English and Spanish, have contributed to the vaccine hesitancy.

“Whatever information we are putting out there, hopefully it resonates with people and hopefully starts changing people’s ideas and knowledge about the vaccine,” Lopez told azcentral.

The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately hit Latinos in the country, who have accounted for nearly 30 percent of the Covid cases and nearly 20 percent of deaths. California, which has the nation's largest Latino population, has seen a surge in new cases as the delta variant continues to spread, primarily among the unvaccinated.

A May survey found there were people who still had questions about whether the vaccinations are free or whether getting the shots requires the disclosure of personal information.

“While the vaccines are available to all adults regardless of their insurance or immigration status, many Hispanic adults who have been vaccinated say they were asked for their health insurance information or a government-issued ID,” Samantha Artiga, director of the racial equity and health policy program at the Kaiser Family Foundation, previously told with NBC Latino. Artiga said that can post barriers for those who are uninsured or lack legal immigration status.

Alcaraz, who has worked as a cultural consultant and writer for Nickelodeon's “The Casagrandes,” said it's important to talk to older adults, who are especially susceptible to the deadly dangers of the virus, as well as younger adults who are still hesitant to get a shot.

The cartoonist shared how his 91-year-old mother-in-law received the vaccination and said that "if she can get vaccinated, I don't see why a big, strong, 'campesino' can't."

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