Latinos priority group for Covid vaccine

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It is a fact that Latinos are more at risk of acquiring and spreading Covid than non-Hispanic whites. It is also a fact that Latinos as a group are more resistant to the idea of vaccinations; up to 30% fewer Latinos opt into any adult vaccinations. This can be a deadly decision; if a Latino becomes positive with the virus, the probability of dying is higher than any other ethnic group.

Gallatin County is in Phase 1B of the vaccination distribution plan. Elizabeth Aghbashian, the Health Program Specialist at the Gallatin City-County health department, says that “Latinos do qualify as an elevated risk for phase 1B,” this is because of the higher risk Latinos face of dying from the virus--regardless to age or health. All Latinos are “people of color” and are in Phase 1B alongside Tribal Nations peoples and people of all races over the age of 70.

According to Taylor Rose, Director of the Big Sky Hospital, Bozeman Health vaccines will be given in Bozeman, but also, this Thursday, Feb. 4, in Big Sky at the Big Sky Medical Center to these high priority populations.

To get the vaccine, a person has to make an appointment by calling the Gallatin County Covid Call center at 406-548-0123. They can also go online to Healthygallatin.org/covid-19-vaccines, click in the right-hand corner, and “select language” as it will convert the website to Spanish. Then, scroll down, and click “complete this form.” The only requirements in the form are things such as contact information and who your primary care provider is. Aghbashian says it is important all Latinos understand that “No citizenship, Social Security number, health insurance or payment is required. Our only requirement is an age requirement because the vaccines we are using have not been tested on people who are under 16, because we have no information from people younger than 16 years of age.” Once you receive a callback and schedule an appointment, make sure to have any form of identification with you. “We only ask for an ID to confirm you are the person who made the appointment,” says Aghbashian.

The CDC says there are many reasons for the higher rates of infection and death in the Latino populations as well as among other people of color, including multi-generational households and a probability that they are working front-line jobs. “Latino and Hispanic people are more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. This puts them at higher risk of experiencing serious complications, possibly even requiring hospitalization if they become infected with the coronavirus.”

Vaccine supplies are limited now, but you can get notification of when appointments are available by texting 888777. Remember, all Latinos and people of color are prioritized before other groups because of the higher risk to them. Being able to get the vaccine early means one fewer day of risking getting the illness. Both vaccines reach up to 90 to 95% effectiveness 14 days following the first shot; a second shot ensures the protection will last much longer.

Aghbashian says she and others are working hard to get this news out to the Latino community. “The limiting factor is the amount of Covid vaccines we can get,” she says. But once you have registered, “They will call you and get you scheduled.” Aghbashian said, “We are working with everyone who will get the word out that this vaccine is safe.” Understanding the vaccine’s safety is most important for those most at risk for hospitalization or death if they do not receive it.

This article also appears in Spanish in this week’s launch of the website of Noticias Montana. Website link: https://noticiasmontana.org

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Cori Koenig, editor: editor@lonepeaklookout.com
Susanne Hill, billing: shill@lonepeaklookout.com
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