Was ‘left behind’ in the rapid vaccination campaign

AmericaLanguage barriers, limited access to technology and inaccurate information, a part of immigrants have difficulty in vaccinating Covid-19.

Flora Pérez, 58, tried to register her dad’s Covid-19 vaccination schedule for weeks but failed. “It’s really, very difficult, there are no injection sites that have space for my dad. He is 82 years old,” said Pérez as he packed the food in his pocket and placed it on the shelf.

As one of the areas most affected by Covid-19 in New York, the Corona neighborhood, Queens County, where the Pérez family live, only 5-28% of the population, mostly working poor, migrating have been vaccinated. This rate is the closest to the city.

In the US, immigrant communities, blacks, and Latinos have always been “victims” of the immunization imbalance. The number of Covid-19 deaths of this group is also high. Data released in mid-February showed vaccination rates among immigrant communities living in the five lowest quintile counties in New York. The city currently has more than 3 million immigrants living.

Pérez and her family were not the only ones in trouble. Many people have turned to social services for help in vaccination. Bronx Works, a non-profit organization, has organized injections of hundreds of doses of vaccine each day for five consecutive days. In order to encourage immigrants to participate in vaccinations, city officials supplemented instruction in writing in many languages, organizing many immunization sites in residential areas.

“I see bright faces because I have been vaccinated near my house, I have no trouble moving,” said John Weed, the assistant chief executive officer of Bronx Works.

Flora Pérez, an agricultural distributor, does not have enough time to find vaccines for herself and her father. Image: NY times

However, there are still many obstacles. Of the 115 people living in the immigrant community who responded to the interview, only 8 have been vaccinated.

Derrick Williams, 72, said he had difficulty scheduling his own vaccinations due to lack of proficiency in technology. “Elderly people like me do not know how to use phones, computers. I have to ask my daughter to schedule injections for me,” he said.

Yesenia Abreu, 42, tries to register the injection schedule for her elderly aunt. “My aunt is not good at manipulating tech, the web is always having problems,” Abreu said. It is also difficult for her family to access the vaccination guide because the information is not written in Spanish.

Many people, including those eligible for the vaccination, insist they do not want to schedule injections because of fear of side effects. They report the reports of the deaths after receiving the injections that frighten them.

“My family members do not want me to get vaccinated. I will listen to them and continue to wear a mask to protect me,” said Ao Gui Qin, 68, a Chinese-American.

Twahair Mohammad, 39, a native of Myanmar, wants to wait for an official statement on the vaccine’s side effects. “I’m scared right now. I need a vaccine, but not now,” he said.

Mariam Diallo, 42, another immigrant living in the South Bronx, said he was not interested in vaccines. She said she would not change her mind even if it was her turn to be vaccinated.

For others, the fear of vaccination comes from not having access to accurate information. “A lot of people don’t know about the Covid-19 vaccination. There are households that don’t have a TV to keep up with the news,” said Sarahi Marquez, manager of a family restaurant in Port Richmond. She is currently the source of vaccination information for staff and neighbors.

“Some people believe that the vaccination program is a conspiracy with the aim of inserting electronic chips into the body to secretly spy on them,” Marquez said. “These are crazy ideas. But if you don’t have a reliable source, you will most likely believe things circulating in the streets.”

Meanwhile, some people want to be vaccinated against Covid-19 but cannot arrange a time to register. All 4 of the Waverly Dong family members are home grocery sellers who are eligible for vaccinations. But because they are too busy with their business, especially in the days leading up to the Lunar New Year, they cannot register their names on the list of injections.

“I work 7 days a week. I will try to spend my free time getting injections when things get easier,” said Jatinkumar Rasikbhal Patel, 30, an Indian-American, about her busy schedule.

Le Hang (Follow NY Times)


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