SAN MARCOS, Texas — You may not be hearing as much about COVID-19 lately, but that doesn’t mean the threat of new infections has gone away. That’s why a local university is looking for ways to reach one group of Texans that is resistant to getting the vaccine.
Behind the walls of Texas State University in San Marcos is a unique research project to answer the question: What will it take to get more Latinos to get COVID-19 shots?
Even though Latinos in Texas are getting vaccinated at a higher rate than white non-Hispanics and Black Americans at 65%, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, health experts say more can be done to get the other 35% to take the shot.
The university research is being conducted with the assistance of the Texas Association of Mexican-American Chambers of Commerce and the “Your Shot Texas” campaign.
In the preliminary findings from a survey of Hispanics in Texas in March, almost half said they had no plans to get the vaccine by the end of 2022.
Doubt about the vaccine’s effectiveness was the main reason for respondents’ hesitancy, which was greater among women than among men. Overall, a family’s influence had more impact than the opinion of religious leaders or a political party. And there was another surprise.
“In certain spheres or circles of Hispanics that are well-educated with college degrees and post-secondary educations, they're also hesitant taking the vaccine,” said J.R. Gonzales with the Texas Association of Mexican-American Chambers of Commerce, which is supporting the research.” It kind of surprised us because we were thinking the more educated somebody is, the more apt they were to get the vaccine.”
Once the research is done, graduate marketing students from Texas State will come up with new, potential ways to reach Latinos who haven’t taken the shots. Texas State hopes to have results from its research ready within the next month.
“What I cannot fathom is the fact that people are going to die unnecessarily if they don't get this basic vaccine that is proven time and time again to be safe, so reliable,” Gonzales said. “It gives you no guarantees, but it sure in the heck increases your chance of not getting COVID. And if you do, it's not going to be as severe where you may not have to be hospitalized, ventilated and then dying.”
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