PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Latino Network and local leaders held a press conference Thursday to call for more government effort to get Oregon’s Latinx community vaccinated.
The Latino Network, a nonprofit organization based in Multnomah County, says the Latinx community has been left behind and it wants the state and federal governments to come up with a clear strategy to fix it. Group members say a lack of resources in Spanish is partly to blame for preventing the Latinx community from getting vaccinated. They’re calling for a Spanish-language registration hotline.
“The pandemic took us all by surprise and it really desperately highlighted the systemic inequalities,” said Edith Quiroz, the executive director of El Programa Hispano Catolico.
They’re also asking for Latinx community vaccination events and want Oregon to fund “culturally-specific organizations” to staff those events.
“I think what we’re asking for from the state is a very clear goal, it is 20% of all of the state’s vaccinations at the mass vax sites will go to the Latinx community,” said Serena Cruz with the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation.
KOIN 6 reached out to the Oregon Health Authority for a response and received the following statement:
“The Oregon Health Authority recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has fallen especially hard on Latina/o/x families and community across the nation and in Oregon. It is OHA’s priority to ensure that communities who are most at-risk and hardest-hit have ready access to vaccines and get vaccinated at proportionate rates. We have worked closely with local public health officials, health systems, federally qualified health centers and community non-profits to increase vaccination rates and meet other community needs, such as expanding testing, contact tracing and helping people and families stay fed and housed as they navigate the fallout from the pandemic. In partnership with LPHAs and CBOs, we’ve organized vaccination events across the state focused on the Latino/a/x community. We’ve provided $45 million in funding to CBOs serving priority populations (the largest portion of those grants went to organizations serving the Latina/o/x community, such as the Latino Network and OLLN) and we recently increased our health equity grants with another $11.5 million expansion. In addition, we’ve allocated thousands of vaccine doses per week to Virginia Garcia and other FQHCs and expanded vaccine eligibility for the people they serve to help address under-vaccination in the Latina/o/x community. We continue to re-evaluate our vaccine allocations to find ways to address the unmet vaccination needs of communities of color who’ve borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Oregon and its local and health care partners can do more to address under-vaccination in the Latina/o/x community. Oregon and its local and health care partners can do better. We welcome input from the community, and we look forward to continuing to work with organizations and health systems on the ground in every corner of the state.”
Read the OHA’s full statement below