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Despite drop in COVID-19 cases, groups continue to push for vaccinations among Latinos in Denver

As of March 4, just 47% of Hispanic people older than 5 in Denver County are fully vaccinated, compared to 83% of white, non-Hispanic people, according to the DDPHE.

DENVER — When Anthony Lopez was driving with his daughter, he passed by a familiar building to him: Servicios De La Raza. 

"And I know it’s a community thing, you know. Lot of positive things happen here," he said. 

This time, he saw a giant sign on the fence outside signaling free COVID-19 vaccines were being provided.

Lopez and his daughter had not received a single dose yet. 

“Probably just a little stubbornness… a lot. Wasn’t sure about it, you know all the hearsay and what not. Miss the facts (of) what’s really going on. But you know what? It’s just a shot. Anything’s gonna be beneficial," he said. “I guess sometimes we just gotta quit being old and stubborn and gotta keep an open mind and you know – world ain't gonna wait for us – gotta change with it or get left behind."

A free vaccine clinic outside of Servicios De La Raza is nothing new, as it's been their main strategy of helping vaccinate Coloradans for months, with a particular focus on the Latino community. 

The Lopezes got the Pfizer vaccine, but few showed up for the clinic throughout several hours of operation Saturday. 

It's a downward trend that Servicios De La Raza's Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez Fisher said is becoming more common. 

Credit: Luis de Leon
Anthony Lopez received his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Servicios De La Raza.

“It’s very interesting we have moments that we start to drop and then suddenly we have increases in the number of people and they start to drop," he said. "I think right now we are on a downslope." 

However, it hasn't stopped the group from hosting vaccination clinics, since the amount of people that are unvaccinated is still out there, according to data. 

As of March 4, just 47% of Hispanic people older than 5 in Denver County are fully vaccinated, compared to 83% of white, non-Hispanic people, according to the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment.

The disparity, Dr. Gonzalez Fisher says, may be caused by a few things. 

 "I think that people are listening to the idea that we are over with the pandemic – I think that this is a misconception," he said. "We still have people who have some kind of fear of the immigration authorities and they don't want to show for their information...More than anything else they listen to some kind of information that comes through social media and that makes them hesitant."

He estimates that around one-third of the people they vaccinate right now are getting their first dose of the vaccine. 

Dr. Martin Yussman, a cardiologist with a private practice that has also been helping with the clinic in Denver, believes that the concentration toward why the Latino community and other communities specifically haven't come in for their vaccinations at the same rate still needs to be addressed. 

"I don’t think it’s been addressed great. That’s what we’re doing here," he said, adding that he believes unvaccinated people have gotten more hesitant as time has passed. 

“Initially it was everybody wanted them. Then it was everybody who wanted to know what the side effects were so they were waiting a little bit of time. Now it's work to be able to get the appropriate information out to people,” he said. 

Credit: Luis de Leon
The site where Servicios De La Raza holds COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

Servicios De La Raza isn't the only organization continuing to push their efforts. 

Adelante Community Development continues to host nearly-weekly vaccination clinics, and also just received a large shipment of at home-test kits for COVID-19.

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