Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit helps dispel rumors about COVID-19 vaccine, inform and empower Latinos
The COVID-19 vaccine continues to become more accessible throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, but some are still hesitant to get the vaccine due to lack of information or myths circulating online and through social media platforms.
Heidi Vargas, a Match Advisor and Program Coordinator for English in Action, said she had tutors come forward to her concerned about their students who were learning English and caught up on rumors about the vaccine that were preventing them from getting it themselves.
“We did have some students, not many … their tutors had expressed that they were a little wary about getting the vaccine, that they weren’t very sure if they wanted to get the vaccine. We also noticed that in general there was a little hesitation from the Latino community about getting the vaccine,” Vargas said.
In an effort to distribute information in a safe space and in their native language, Vargas and English in Action partnered with Dr. Gayle Mizner from Mountain Family Health to answer questions about the vaccine that students had. Vargas made it clear that the intention wasn’t to force students to get vaccinated, but provide them with everything they needed to know in order to make the decision for themselves, based on facts.
“One (part) of our mission is just to empower our students and by facilitating the space to be able to ask questions and empower them to take the decision on their own. And feel safe and like they have good knowledge about it, enough knowledge,” Vargas said.
Glenwood Springs Post Independent reporter Jessica Peterson spoke with Vargas about what the biggest concerns and most prevalent questions were about the vaccine from the session with Dr. Mizner. Below is a recap from Vargas of the information Dr. Mizner provided at the Q&A session hosted by English in Action on March 15.
If I get the vaccine does that increase my chance of getting COVID-19?
“If you get the vaccine it’s not going to cause you to get Covid. If anything it’s going to cause an immunity reaction. So you can create the antibodies.”
What symptoms will I have after getting vaccinated?
“The most common side effects (of the vaccine) are body aches and fever, and flu-like symptoms.”
How long will I be immune for after getting vaccinated?
“We still don’t know, it could be like the flu where we have to get it every year, but there could be a chance it could be longer immunity.”
Can I get the vaccine if I have COVID-19 and am showing symptoms right now?
“If you currently have Covid you should not get the vaccine, you should wait.”
After I’m vaccinated do I have to wear a mask?
“You should continue to wear a mask if you’ve gotten the vaccine.”
Who shouldn’t get the vaccine?
“It’s a very small (number) of people. Only if you have a certain allergy, allergic reaction to some of the ingredients.”
Can I not get the vaccine if I’m pregnant?
“You should get vaccinated if you’re pregnant, but obviously talk to your doctor first.”
How do we know if the vaccines are safe since they were developed so quickly?
“All three vaccines have gone through the three phases of research and approval. There was no vaccine in the history of humankind that had caused side effects where they caused someone to die years later after getting the vaccine. If you get any type of reaction it is immediate, that’s why they have you wait there for 15 minutes. It would never be in the long-run.”
Have you heard from tutors at all since doing the Q&A if more people who were concerned have gone out and gotten vaccinated?
“I have a tutor who had told me that her student was a little fearful of getting the vaccine, and she actually came by the office yesterday and she said that her student had gotten the vaccine.”
What do you think the value is of having that kind of information in someone’s native language and in that kind of format?
“We just wanted to provide a safe space where they could ask questions. I think within the questions it was an aim to not focus on the very specific myths but have a broad understanding of the vaccine. To know that this has been studied and researched. It is not the first time that they’re going about this, about creating a vaccine and administering it. I think that’s one of the things that the doctor touched on that yes, it was a shorter time that the vaccine was created but we also have more cases to study from as opposed to polio or other diseases that the cases are fewer. This was a pandemic so it was broader, there were more people to study.”
How would you describe the spread of misinformation you’ve seen about the COVID-19 vaccines?
“It’s like a ripple effect and I feel like I’ve seen that even within my family. Of my aunts that are constantly on Youtube and finding all of these videos, and changing their own minds. And my cousins and I are like ‘no, but how are you being so gullible and believing all these things?’ but the reality is that a lot of people are. That’s a reality for a lot of people that don’t have the time or the interest to look deeper.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add about sharing facts about the vaccine with Spanish-speakers and members of the Latino community?
“I think just how important it is. Especially because a lot of the Latino community are the front workers. And it’s really interesting that there’s this hesitation and fear within them because they’re the ones that need it the most, that need to be protected the most. That’s why we thought it was so important for them to know and have that knowledge.”
Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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