Hispanic church holds COVID-19 vaccine event for under-served communities

About 4.5 million people in Florida have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine so far. However, only a fraction of those numbers include Hispanics.

Data shows about half-a-million Hispanics have actually been vaccinated.  Now, the community is pushing for outreach and education.

The line was long outside Iglesia Episcopal Jesus de Nazaret in Orlando on Thursday. The church caters to a largely Hispanic community east of downtown Orlando. It’s a community that is traditionally under-served when it comes to public health.

"We're about 40 percent of the state population, but by last count, 10-13% of those vaccinated. There are huge disparities in illness, but also huge disparities in getting vaccinated," explained Father Jose Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said language barriers and cultural issues often keep his community on the margins. He had drawn the crowd there through local efforts.

"You have to put boots on the ground, knock on doors, let people know that we're here, they qualify, and we want them to get vaccinated," he said.

People like Marcos Losito, who qualify for the shot because of pre-existing conditions, said they are very thankful for the opportunity to get it.

"I feel much free right now. I feel much better and I think the vaccine is the way for us all to be safe," Losito said.

The sentiment was shared by Gloria Sandoval.

"For the life, for the life!" said Sandoval. "I have three kids."

Father Rodriguez said the church lost six parishioners to COVID-19 and added that the vaccine event honors their memories.

"We promised ourselves one vaccine event per-parishioner who passed away," he said, "and we've already blown-through that goal."

The church is announcing on their Facebook page when they'll be hosting their next vaccine event.

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