Eliminating vaccine barriers: Hispanic population leads Hays County COVID-19 infections

Hays

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — There are continuous efforts in Hays County to remove any barriers for getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

But do language barriers play a role for Spanish speakers?

KXAN was at a vaccine clinic at Redwood Baptist Church when we noticed Spanish speakers in need of assistance with paperwork that was only in English.

“Although it is not ideal, it is absolutely isolated,” Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said. “I’m not worried about it too much, but we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again. We depend heavily on no barriers.”

Becerra continues to push for COVID-19 vaccines consistently giving updates in both Spanish and English to make sure he reaches everyone. 

The latest Hays County data shows Hispanics make up nearly half of confirmed cases in the area.

San Marcos resident Patricia Santos lives across from Redwood Baptist Church, where Hays County held one of three COVID-19 vaccine clinics on Thursday.

Santos said she’s lived in the neighborhood about 30 years, which is primarily Hispanic.

“I’d say around 90%,” Santos said. “It’s Texas, you know.”

As of July 29, about 65% of people 12 and older have received at least one COVID-19 shot in Hays County, according to state data.

For comparison, Williamson County is at 71%. 73% of that same population has received at least one dose in Travis County.

“I continue to plan additional clinics to continually remain accessibly available, especially after hours for the community that is mostly working,” Becerra said.

Becerra said Austin-Travis County’s move to Stage 4, due to limited ICU space, isn’t something to take lightly. 

“Austin-Travis County getting full with COVID [patients] is absolutely a byproduct of what’s happening here [in Hays County],” Becerra said. “And we are just trying to remind people this is serious. If not for yourself, do it for your community.”

Santos says she’s talked to a number of her neighbors who have already gotten vaccinated, and is confident a language barrier won’t discourage those who want the shot. 

“Sometimes they [neighbors] have their young daughters or sons to translate for them,” she said.  

Hays County announced it will now have a vaccine clinic every Thursday and Friday at CommuniCare in Kyle. Residents can get vaccinated Monday through Friday at the County’s health department as well.

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