Breanna Reeves |

Riverside County launched a vaccination campaign last week to encourage communities of color to get vaccinated and reduce the spread of COVID-19 among unvaccinated residents.

Supervisor V. Manuel Perez represents Riverside County’s 4th District. (Source: Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce)

A COVID Epidemiology Status Report from the Riverside University Health System Public Health Department reported that unvaccinated individuals were 27 times more at risk of getting COVID and 112 times more at risk of dying from COVID than fully vaccinated individuals. 

Supervisor V. Manuel Perez of Riverside County’s 4th District reported that across his district, 75 percent of residents are fully or partially vaccinated. However, across Desert Hot Springs, vaccination rates among Latinos are low. 

Vaccination rates remain low among some groups

Vaccination rates among Latinos and African Americans, remain low throughout California due to access, misinformation, cultural barriers, and trust.  

Dr. Paulette Brown Hinds, founder Voice Media Ventures and Publisher of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. (Photo: Daley Hake)

“Part of it is access. The others are these historic reasons — people don’t trust the healthcare system. For instance, when it comes to African American communities, there’s a whole history there that we have to overcome within our communities to become vaccinated,” said Paulette Brown-Hinds, founder of Voice Media Ventures and Black Voice News publisher. “They have to hear these messages from people they trust.” 

In California, the percent of White people who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose was 1.2 times higher than the rate for Black and Hispanic people, according to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

“We think we’re moving in a good direction, but still we do see an opportunity to nudge the remaining people who may have not gotten vaccinated yet who may be on the fence, or who may be waiting for the right time,” said Dr. Geoffrey Leung, Riverside Public Health Officer. “This is the best time.”

The most recent Riverside County Daily Epidemiology Summary shows that the Hispanic and Latino community lead in Covid-19 cases. (Graph courtesy of the Riverside University Health System – Public Health)

One key component of the vaccination campaign is “meeting people where they are.” Dr. Leung explained the importance of going out into hard-to-reach communities to make vaccines more accessible. The department put together small teams who went out into these communities who may have issues with transportation, childcare services, and work availability.

Dr. Geoffrey Leung, Riverside Public Health Officer. (source: ruhealth.org)

Reaching people where they are

“One of the things we really try to do is have a very broad outreach to all of our communities and to be able to do it through community members that they know, and they trust, as well, to help get that word out,” explained Juan Perez, Chief Operating Officer of Riverside County.

 “It’s certainly not one size fits all. It’s about access, it’s about information and it’s about partnering with our faith-based community, with our nonprofit community, with our schools, with a lot of trusted community partners to reach out to all community members in Riverside County.”

Breanna Reeves

Breanna Reeves is a reporter in Riverside, California, and uses data-driven reporting to cover issues that affect the lives of Black Californians. Breanna joins Black Voice News as a Report for America...

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