IDAHO — Mayra Alvarez and Blanca Ortiz, a maintenance crew with the Melba School District, waited patiently inside the gymnasium to get the COVID-19 vaccine. In Spanish, they said it meant they were doing their part in protecting the community.
"I feel happy because I know that by getting the vaccine, I am helping to take care of myself and others. I believe that it is time not only the doctors do their work, but we also have to do something so that this could end," Ortiz said.
Under the state's current prioritization list, Alvarez and Ortiz are eligible to get the vaccine. Alvarez shared a message about those still pondering the idea of getting the vaccine when it becomes available to the general public, specifically for the Hispanic communities.
"I encouraged others to try it to protect everyone. I believe that way we can all protect each other, and so there won't be so many tragedies within families," Alvarez said.
Since the pandemic started, providing COVID-19 information to Idaho's Hispanic and Latino communities has been vital work by some local organizations.
"Sometimes they don't receive the information the same way some of our neighbors do," Maribel Ramos, part of the Hispanic/Latino COVID-19 Task Force, said. "Sometimes through the internet and through websites that information is missed. So we wanted to target our Latino community and make sure they were getting all the accurate information in the most efficient way possible. Once this pandemic started, we started to see the number of our Hispanic community being affected in great numbers."
The task force involves several trusted and well-known resources from the community. Ramos said for months they've worked to ensure Hispanic individuals get the information they need.
"We did a community forum for our Hispanic and Latino and community in Spanish. We've also done radio spots; we've done TV commercials, and really just trying to get that accurate information out there," Ramos said.
As the vaccine rollout continues, Ramos said they hope to provide information to help the Hispanic community learn more about the vaccine.
"Kind of dispelling some of the rumors and help people feel more comfortable with whatever decision they come to. We want to keep our community safe, and we want to keep our community healthy."
The Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance (IIRA), which provides support and resources to farmworkers and immigrant individuals, says there's still a need for education on the vaccine within these communities.
"There's a lack of information as well, which is very worrisome, especially with the vaccine," Samantha Guerrero with IIRA said. "With the next phase in February. This is when those who are working in plant processing facilities and farmworkers are supposed to be eligible for the vaccine, but what I'm hearing from community members those that have been directly impacted by COVID or who have gotten COVID in the community they don't have information on the vaccine yet."