HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A local community is ramping up its efforts to get the word out about the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. In Hazleton, that includes a possible language and cultural barrier.
The City of Hazleton has a large and growing Latino population. City leaders estimate that Latinos comprise about 40 percent of the city’s population of around 26,000 residents. Leaders in the Latino community tell me they are facing two main factors in the community; misinformation and for some folks – mistrust of the vaccine.
“They don’t believe it is a good thing by religious belief or what they hear or listen. They don’t want to get vaccinated,” says Amilcar Arroyo who is the publisher of the Spanish language magazine El Mensejero.
He believes that factor, combined with a language barrier, has hindered the vaccination effort in the Latino community. Most Latinos he speaks with have already received the COVID-19 vaccine but some have not yet received the shot in the arm.
He and other leaders in the Latino community are trying to get the word out.
“We started having communication in Spanish fliers, on TV, on social media… the hospitals Geisinger, Lehigh Valley Hazleton health network started reaching more of Latino population through the cell phones, through TV, radio stations, my magazine,” said Arroyo.
“We’ve been doing a variety of different things. A lot of it is marketing, social media, Facebook. Also engaging our community leaders,” said Dr. Jodi Lenko who helps coordinate the COVID-19 response at Lehigh Valley Hazleton
She tells the I-Team their health network spoke directly to the Latino community.
“We had one of our Spanish-speaking physicians put together some videos they put on Facebook called myth busters meant to kind of dispel rumors that people have. Some of the misinformation about the vaccine,” she explained.
Dr. Lenko says vaccine hesitancy is not limited to the Latino community.
“So I think a lot of the hesitancy is just a lack of education and just some misinformation out there. So we’re seeing hesitancy among the Spanish-speaking population but also among other areas. So younger adults, so it’s not limited to one particular culture.”
Dr. Lenko added that they have seen the number of COVID -19 cases go up in recent weeks and insists that the need to get vaccinated is so important to help reduce those numbers.