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County works to bridge vaccine gap for minorities

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 3:39 PM MST
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FOUNTAIN, Colo. (KKTV) - On Friday, hundreds of eligible people are getting their coronavirus vaccine for the first time--but this time the county is focusing on people who might not have had easy access to it before.

Over the next few days El Paso County is focusing on minority populations and those who do not speak English.

They say there are a lot of barriers when it comes to people--particularly minorities--getting health care. This includes things like language, transportation, fear, and cultural issues can steer them away from getting the care they need, which is why the county and partners are working to bride that gap.

It was a big day for people like Gloria Jimenez who was getting her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’m very happy because I received my vaccine,” she said in Spanish.

She says she had been waiting for this day and an event like this to get her shot.

“Ever since they said the vaccine was here, I was desperate because I wanted to get the vaccine.”

But for people like her it hasn’t been that easy. According to the state, about 28 percent of Colorado’s coronavirus cases are in people who are Hispanic or Latino--but they represent only about five percent of people vaccinated. White people represent about 40 percent of cases, and they have gotten the most with about 75 percent of the state’s administered vaccines going into their arms.

“There are health disparities. We knew about health disparities before COVID and what COVID has done is really exasperated and illuminated the health disparities that are experienced,” Susan Wheelan, the El Paso County Public Health Director said.

That’s why the county and its partners say this is why clinics like this are so needed.

“We have the highest rates of suicide, we have the highest rates on everything,” Julissa Soto, the Director of Statewide Programs for Servicios De La Raza said. “So, I do ask them to please, let us not be the highest rates on COVID also. Access to care is really important to our community--prevention is really important to our community.”

There will be another clinic there Saturday, and more throughout the weekend.

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