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Underserved communities in Palm Beach County face challenges getting COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 18:42:00-05

Language barriers are creating hurdles for many who are 65 and older to get access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Guatemalan Maya Center in Lake Worth is sending out information about the covid-19 vaccine in various languages through a text messaging system.

“We do see that a large number of our community members are asking for the vaccine,” said Mariana Blanco, Assistant Director at the Guatemalan Maya Center.

But the information is limited. Blanco says many of the families who come to the center for resources are facing challenges that have not been addressed county-wide.

“Either lack of internet, lack of technology, or even some of our community members can’t even read or write or speak the language, so all of those barriers together have been playing a factor in getting the vaccine,” said Blanco.

As of now vaccine appointments through the county can only be made online, leaving out a population of underserved seniors who don’t have access to or don’t know how to use a computer.

“Those are the individuals that are at highest risk for progressing into a more severe disease and that’s what we’re seeing in the hospitals,” said Dr. Leslie Diaz, infectious disease specialist.

Dr. Diaz agrees even though there is a limited supply of the vaccine, more information about the vaccine needs to be distributed in various languages. Blanco says she’s hopeful at some point community centers like the Guatemalan Maya Center can help with distribution in underserved communities.

“That’s our dream. We are available. We have the fridges to store the vaccines, you know the large fridges that they need, so we are ready to be a hub,” said Blanco.