Mano a Mano works to provide COVID-19 vaccine facts to immigrants in Lake County
As the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more manageable, a Lake County-based advocacy group is trying to spread facts about the vaccine to the immigrant community.
Mano a Mano Family Resource Center has established new programs to help immigrant families in the Round Lake area recover from the pandemic. That effort includes informing the public on vaccine safety and scheduling time for people to be vaccinated.
Executive Director Dulce Ortiz stressed the importance of getting the Latino population vaccinated, saying that just roughly 20% of Latinos in Lake County are fully vaccinated.
"We're trying to educate people," Ortiz said. "The pandemic has ravaged black and brown communities nationwide. We cannot let our guard down."
But Ortiz said that reaching out to families has been a challenge because of disinformation about the vaccine on social media and distrust of government agencies.
A study by the human rights group Avaaz showed that Facebook was far less likely to flag posts for misinformation in Spanish than in English.
"A lot of people rely on things they see on social media to stay informed, and that poses problems," Ortiz said. "They fear getting sick from COVID, but they also fear getting sick from the vaccine and missing a day of work. It's been difficult."
Mano a Mano partnered with the Boston-based nonprofit organization Community Catalyst Project to eliminate health care barriers for the immigrant population in Lake County.
As part of that effort, Mano a Mano will work to inform the community members about the COVID-19 vaccines and refer them to low-cost healthcare programs.
In addition, Mano a Mano has been partnering with the Lake County Health Department to host vaccination events throughout the area. Roughly 1,500 people have been vaccinated at those events in Round Lake and North Chicago, Ortiz said.