By Kimberly Davis

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Officials in South Jersey are working to dispel COVID vaccine fears in the Latino community. With the help of bilingual volunteers, Camden leaders hope to educate residents in a community that’s already been hit hard by the coronavirus.

“Participation from the Latino community is extremely low,” Camden County Commissioner Carmen Rodriguez said.

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There’s a push to vaccinate as many people as possible.

Rodriguez says the county is operating its vaccination clinics at full capacity but realizes the disparities in inoculations. That’s why the Salvation Army Kroc Center has partnered with the county.

“It is located in one of our most densely-populated areas in Camden County for the Hispanic community,” Rodriguez said. “It’s actually more of a working class, poor type of community.”

Transportation and language barriers have played a role in the vaccination disparity in the Hispanic community. The Kroc Center is helping to ease one of those barriers, by its location.

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Bilingual volunteers are also taking to the phones.

“Do you know people that need this vaccine, that want this vaccine and can’t get it? Give us names and phone numbers,” Rodriguez said. “So, we’re doing more than just waiting for people to come to us. We’re actually doing our very best to reach out to them directly.”

By reaching out to residents directly, health officials can address the fears and stigmas associated with vaccination. They’re hopeful their outreach strategies help curve the disproportion.

“We’ll do our part as much as we can to directly help people and help people where they are,” Rodriguez said.

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The county has also been doing outreach with St. Joe’s Carpenters Society, Camden Coalition,
St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral and host of other organizations.

Kimberly Davis