TAMACC urges Hispanics to stay vigilant and get vaccinated
Our battle with COVID-19 is not over. There are several variants now, with subvariant Omicron strains. Cases are surging again in parts of the country, including parts of Texas.
The numbers are not as high as two years ago, of course. Or as scary as other surges. The vaccines that have been made widely available still provide substantial protection against emergency room or urgent care visits and hospitalizations caused by coronavirus infections.
In the Tyler and Longview areas, just east of Dallas, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 104 hospitalizations in mid-July. That is the highest number since March. Dallas County raised its COVID-19 risk level to yellow the first week of July as health authorities there reported rising cases and hospitalizations.
That is why the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC) is still working with its members and Your Shot Texas to spread awareness about the vaccine’s effectiveness, and bring up the number of vaccinations among Tejanos, who are getting infected at a higher rate.
Harris County Public Health and the Houston Health Department report that about 32% of the COVID-19 cases in Greater Houston are Hispanics. That is four points higher than blacks or whites. In Bexar County, where 60% of the population is Latino, about 70% of the COVID-19 cases are Latino, according to the San Antonio Health District’s latest report.
“Interestingly, and perhaps as a direct result of being hit disproportionately by COVID-19, Texas Latinos also get vaccinated at a higher rate. Public health sources show that 68% of Hispanics in the state have been vaccinated, compared to 63.3% of the general population.
“We are setting the example, but we need to do better than 68%,” TAMACC Chairman Sam Guzman said. “There is still plenty of room for improvements. Hispanics need to be in the 90% plus vaccination range. Through continuous education and awareness, we can get there.”
Earlier this year, TAMACC, a statewide nonprofit umbrella organization for Hispanic chambers and business organizations, engaged with Texas State University to survey Hispanics on COVID vaccine hesitancy. Among the results found were that family influence is important and that women make health care decisions for their families.
“We need to build awareness, particularly among Latinas, who are the ones that can make a real difference,” said TAMACC President and CEO Pauline E. Anton. “If anyone can help us get closer to a 100% vaccination rate, it is our madres and hermanas who can do it.”
Over the summer, TAMACC will continue to raise awareness and work with our partners to increase vaccinations in Texas.