PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Vaccine hesitancy is a real thing, especially among Latinos and their families. Yackelin Sazo wishes she got the vaccine. Instead, she got COVID-19 a couple of months ago and ended up in the hospital. "My whole body was hurting," said Sazo. "I was in bed for three days. Then I got worse and worse. I couldn't even breathe. I couldn't ever get up."
The Phoenix mom is one of many Hispanics who've avoided getting the COVID-19 vaccine for an assortment of reasons. Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows about 49% of white Arizonans are vaccinated. Only 31% of Latino Arizonans are vaccinated.
Janey Pearl Starks is director of equity, diversity and engagement with Mountain Park Health, a nonprofit clinic in Phoenix's Maryvale District. Starks said the biggest problem right now is misinformation about the vaccine, either from friends or family, or something someone saw on social media. "We haven't done a good enough job convincing people why they need the vaccine," said Starks. "We've heard stories of people saying, 'My family doesn't like it, a mask will be just fine. I don't want vaccine because I don't know what it will do to me, don't want side effects.' What we do know is people are dying every day from COVID."
For months, efforts have been made to reach out to minorities, with pop-up clinics and transportation to vaccination sites. However, the numbers show it's not enough. State health officials have created a vaccine equity task force to address the problem.
"I keep telling them if you think it's not a good idea, just get it anyways," said Vanessa Rivas of Phoenix. "Have a safe, peace of mind about it. It's not as bad as you think it is." Mountain Park Health just received a $1 million grant to go door to door to promote vaccine education.