Salem County tries to increase vaccinations among black and Latino residents

As of Thursday, the county was reporting 25,831 residents fully vaccinated, state data showed. Among them, only 9% of them identify as black, while they represent 13% of the population. About 8% of those vaccinated in Salem County are Latinos, who make up 9% of the population.

Penns Grove resident Rebeca Lopez came to the clinic for the vaccine with her two children. Through a Spanish translator, she said she had some concerns, especially regarding potential side effects.

The COVID-19 vaccination clinic hosted by the Puerto Rican Action Committee in Penns Grove, NJ offered a choice of three types of vaccines. (Emma Lee / WHYY)

Siebert says transportation in this rural county and language barriers within the Spanish-speaking community are also part of the issues they’ve faced getting people vaccinated, as well as confidence. The ministry said it wanted to do more awareness.

“We’re really just trying to educate [and] working with other agencies such as the PRAC to gain this trust, ”she said. “Distribute the educational material to the public in these communities and really come to them. We want to come to them. We want them to know that we are there for them.

Padilla believes pop-up clinics will continue to help push the numbers up, echoing messages from the state’s top health officials. He said his group strives to make the clinics as convenient as possible, offering hours of operation in the evenings and on weekends.

Samantha Madden sits wearing a black mask
Samantha Madden waits 15 minutes after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at the Puerto Rican Action Committee in Penns Grove, NJ She said transportation issues prevented her from getting the vaccine earlier, but she was able to make it to walk to the pop-up clinic on Main Street. (Emma Lee / WHYY)

“We are now at the point where we cannot let our communities let their guard down,” he said. “The best way to protect yourself and the people around you… is to get vaccinated. And to overcome those fears and some of the conspiracy theories. “

Salem County will host another community health fair where vaccines are available at the Pittsgrove Senior Center from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, June 23.

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