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Latinos are twice more likely than whites to want a Covid vaccine, but cite fears, barriers

Though the federal government has made clear that vaccinations are available to people regardless of their immigration status, 4 in 10 unvaccinated Latinos (39 percent) said they are concerned that they might be required.
Mobile Vaccine Clinic from CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center
Danielle Mero, 31, receives a Pfizer vaccination at a walk-up mobile clinic in Los Angeles, on April 20, 2021.Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

Unvaccinated Latinos are two times more likely than whites to want a Covid-19 vaccine, highlighting an opportunity for targeted outreach to boost overall vaccination rates, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But Latinos surveyed raised several concerns, including having to pay for the vaccination and having to give information that may reveal one's immigration status — showing that there needs to be more information that stresses vaccines are free and available to anyone regardless of legal status.

“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, director of public opinion and survey research at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in a statement Thursday.

A third of all unvaccinated Hispanic adults (33 percent) said they would like to get a Covid-19 shot as soon as possible. That's twice the share among unvaccinated white adults who wish to get vaccinated (16 percent), the foundation's Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor shows.

But nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of unvaccinated Hispanic adults said they are concerned about missing work due to vaccine side effects, and half of them (52 percent) worry they may have to pay out-of-pocket for the vaccine, even though Covid-19 vaccinations are provided by the federal government for free.

Though the federal government has made clear that vaccines are available to people regardless of their immigration status, 4 in 10 unvaccinated Latinos (39 percent) said they are concerned that they might be required to provide a Social Security number or government-issued identification to get vaccinated. About 35 percent worry that getting a vaccination might negatively affect their own or a family member’s immigration status.

The poll found that 56 percent of Hispanic adults who have been vaccinated were asked to show a government-issued identification when they received the vaccination, and 15 percent say they were asked to provide a Social Security number. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) say they were asked for health insurance information.

Latinos are the nation's largest uninsured population, according to the nonprofit advocacy organization UnidosUS.

“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,” said Samantha Artiga, director of the racial equity and health policy program at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “That can pose barriers for many, particularly those who are uninsured or are potentially undocumented immigrants.”

Forward Latino, a Wisconsin-based Latino advocacy group, said in a statement Friday that it "identified issues that could serve as barriers to individuals unable to attain a driver's license or state ID, including many of our nation’s elderly, as well as immigrant and homeless populations."

It urged retailers and pharmacies "to address equity issues in their vaccination programs and to bring them into compliance with the CDC’s Covid-19 Federal Retail Pharmacy Program and guidance issued by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration," Forward Latino National President Darryl Morin said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The result will be more people getting vaccinated in a shorter period of time which benefits us all.”

As of May 14, the CDC reported that race and ethnicity were known for nearly 56 percent of the people who have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccination. Among this group, nearly two-thirds are white (63 percent), 13 percent are Hispanic, 9 percent are Black, and 6 percent are Asian.

Covid-19 has killed at least 71,646 Latinos since the start of the pandemic. Most of them have died at much younger ages and at a rate of almost three times that of the country's white population, according to the CDC.

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