El Buen was recently featured in an essay in The New York Times on Covid-19 vaccine access and equity. Through our monthly vaccine clinics, we have found that vaccine hesitancy is less an issue than access for populations with low vaccination rates, such as Latinos and immigrants, and we are working to change that.

El Buen Samaritano, an Episcopal outreach ministry in Texas, serves the east side of Austin, the poorer of the two parts of the city, split by I-35. There are fewer services there, including many neighborhoods that don’t have a health center. The population is mainly people of color, many whose first language is Spanish. It’s the kind of population that has low Covid vaccination rates.But El Buen has been able to prove that at least as far as Austin goes, the issue is not fear of the vaccine itself. “This is all about access,” Luis Garcia, the director of technology and analytics for El Buen, told me. Its food pantry gets about 200 visits every day it’s open, many from families that return week after week. Each of those food pickups is a chance for El Buen staff members to talk to them about the vaccine, he said, speaking in Spanish as he handed them bags of groceries and whole watermelons. The organization has also plastered social media, put out radio spots in Spanish and hung fliers in other food pantries.

Every month the organization holds a vaccination event. Other sites might ask for an ID or health insurance and usually demand an online appointment that requires internet access and often a computer, things that people in this community frequently don’t have. El Buen gives out shots on the spot, no questions asked.

Even though the event El Buen did in September didn’t start until 3 p.m., a couple of hundred people had lined up by 1:30, the cars crawling down the quiet residential street it sits on to a six-lane road a third of a mile away. One person waited in the line for an hour, and at 7 p.m. Mr. Garcia told him he’d have to come back to the next one. El Buen put 324 shots in arms that day.

Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/03/opinion/covid-booster-vaccine-poverty.html