CLEVELAND – Aracelis Casiano is a Cleveland Hispanic mother of seven who explained how very uncertain her family was about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021, but said local church outreach helped her family to feel comfortable and accept the vaccine in June.
Casiano said his family was unsure of the safety of mass vaccination sites like the one hosted at the Wolstein Center in downtown Cleveland, or of using public transportation to get there.
“My kids were scared to go to the clinic because there were so many people coming in and out so they didn’t feel safe because they said the virus was there too,” Casiano said.
Casiano said she and her family accepted the vaccine when the Community of Faith Collaborative set up an immunization clinic at their church, Iglesia Emmanuel, located on the West Side of Cleveland.
“They feel more comfortable going to a small place to get the shot with people we already know, especially Latinos,” Casiano said.
Bishop Omar Medina, president and founder of the Community of Faith Collaborative, said his team was able to work with several Hispanic churches in northeast Ohio to organize a series of immunization clinics in those locations.
Medina said that a coalition of 53 Hispanic churches statewide has now helped to dramatically increase Latino vaccination rates, with nearly 47% of the Latin American population in Ohio receiving at least one dose of the. vaccine, more than 2% of the state average.
“There is some hesitation and fear among the Latino population,” Medina said. “We needed to find pastors who were willing to open the doors of their churches for immunization clinics.”
“Some members of the Hispanic community felt a disconnect going to Wolstein Center, they didn’t feel safe taking public transportation. So let’s bring the vaccine to our part of the country, to our neighborhoods, to an environment. culturally sensitive, ”Medina said. “When they see that their loved ones are doing it, and that people they trust are doing it, then they follow that example … We have found that this popular approach is very, very effective in Latino communities, in n “any county a lot in any state. I think this can be duplicated.”
Medina said the next vaccination clinic in Cleveland’s Hispanic community is scheduled for Saturday, September 25, sponsored by the Hispanic UMADAOP and located at 3305 W. 25th Street in Cleveland from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.