COVID-19 has hit Latino communities harder than most and yet there seems to be a high percentage of Latinos who say they are hesitant to take a vaccine.
If a coronavirus vaccine was offered free of charge right now only 66% of Latinos would take it, according to a survey by National Health Experts. Ana Novella hopes her story can change this.
“I’m connected to the machine and can’t walk,” said Novella. "This is no life.”
Novella, a resident of Tijuana, has been in the intensive care unit for 16 days.
“It's hard not to be able to see your loved ones and them wondering how you're doing and if you're feeling better,” Novella said. “It's very hard.”
She was diagnosed with COVID-19 last month after she was rushed to a Riverside hospital by her daughter. The mother of three lives part-time in the area.
“At that point, I couldn't even breathe anymore,” Novella said. “I was in really bad shape."
According to Public Health Data, COVID-19 has infected half a million Latinos in the state. In fact, Latinos, like Novella, represent 58% of COVID-19 cases in California.
And, a survey by the COVID Collaborative Research Group found that most aren't on board with a vaccine.
“Yo no me la pondría," Norma Hurtado of Chula Vista says she wouldn't take it.
“It’s a vaccine and with this epidemic, I think it's vital that we actually do,” said Ivan Gutierrez, a Chula Vista resident.
Data shows Gutierrez is part of the only 34% of Latinos that trust a vaccine will be safe.
“I think the mistrust has been there,” said Margarita Holguin, director of Partnership Initiatives with We Support U. “It’s always been there. It’s part of the culture.
Holguin works to connect the Latino community with health and wellness programs across the county.
“Some of the things we’re seeing is that they think the vaccine has the virus and that the virus will be injected into them,” Holguin said.
She says the mistrust against the COVID-19 vaccine isn't unique. Holguin says most people against it are against preventive care in general.
“(They)will not go to the regular appointments, that don’t practice prevention,” Holguin said.
So as preparations are underway for the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, at the top of the preparation list: Building trust with people who fear a flu shot, let alone a COVID-19 vaccine.