In-Depth: San Diego makes progress on Latino/Hispanic vaccinations

Outreach groups help underserved communities
Posted at 8:24 AM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-18 21:43:16-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - New numbers show San Diego's efforts to get more vaccines to Latino/Hispanic communities are starting to pay off. However, there's still a long way to go.

"We've definitely seen a big improvement from just a couple of weeks ago," says Chicano Federation's Roberto Alcantar.

In February, Governor Newsom announced plans to dedicate 40% of the state's COVID-19 supply to minority and under-served communities. He said that would bring more equity to the vaccine rollout.

At the time, Hispanic/Latino people in San Diego had only received 14% of the vaccines administered, even though that community makes up 34% of the population and 55% of the COVID-19 cases.

As of this week, that number is up to 20%.

"The progress that we've seen is very helpful," says Alcantar. "It's showing that we're on the right path."

Alcantar says his organization has partnered with nearly a dozen other minority-focused groups to bring vaccines into their communities.

Over the last two months, they have focused on events that take vaccines and information into the community, rather than forcing people to search for it online.

Alcantar says events like "Project Save" and the "Promontores" effort have helped break down geography, language, and mistrust barriers.

"Going to a county office or going to a county location, talking to a county employee, that is not very comfortable for a lot of our communities," he says. "They'd rather see us as trusted messengers."

The Chicano Federation also partnered with UCSD Health to hold mobile vaccine clinics. They're now working with the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce and some local grocery markets to hold vaccine events at work locations for front-line employees in the food, agriculture, manufacturing, and service industries.

And several no-appointment, walk-up vaccine clinics made it easier for people to get their shot. At some, people lined up overnight to get their vaccine. Alcantar says it negates the myth that his community is hesitant to get the vaccine.

"We're out there in the community every single day," Alcantar says. "We're talking to folks, providing information, and helping to create innovative ways to access the vaccine."

But there still is a long way to go in the effort to make vaccinations more equitable. Alcantar points explicitly to the 92154 Zip Code, which covers most of Otay Mesa. It has the second most COVID-19 cases in the County but ranks just 26th for the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine per capita.

And Alcantar is worried his community could get lost in the shuffle as vaccine eligibility expands.

"We're relying on our state to enforce the rule of allocating those specific numbers of vaccines to the most affected communities," he says. "And we're doing direct outreach in those most affected zip codes to make sure that folks know that they're eligible."

He also says anyone who needs help or information should contact the Chicano Federation at, or 619-285-5600.