How a new international partnership could save the lives of Latinos in Roanoke

City is partnering with several Spanish-speaking countries to disperse vaccine information

ROANOKE, Va. – The City of Roanoke is relying on international connections to help Latinos locally during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the biggest issues Latinos face when trying to get vaccinated is asking themselves where should they go.

Dr. Danny Avula with the Virginia Health Department said in a press conference Tuesday, “just looking at our data, we are not reaching out to Black and Latino residents to the degree that we want to and need to.”

That’s why Councilmember Vivian Sanchez-Jones and the City of Roanoke is now partnering with several Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico, Honduras, Columbia, Guatemala and El Salvador, to disperse vaccine information that could save Latino lives.

“Let’s see that... language is not a barrier for everyone to know where they can vaccinate,” said Mariana Diaz, Deputy Consul of Embassy of Mexico.

Country consuls will be able to target specific zip codes in the Roanoke area and reach out to their clients to help explain vaccination information to Latino families.

“I am committed to getting this done,” said Mayor Sherman Lea. “The only way to beat COVID-19 is to work together and to get vaccinated. We want to ensure that all Roanokers know how to sign up for vaccination to keep themselves and their family safe from this pandemic.”

One woman originally from Honduras, who wanted her identity to remain anonymous told 10 News that seven of her family members in Roanoke contracted the virus.

While she is ready for the vaccine, others are fearful that signing up would lead to deportation.

“They want [the vaccine] but they’re scared because they don’t have papers,” she said. “They think they gonna have to pay for it. And they don’t want to sign and they don’t know where they can get it.”

Understanding this fear, Tiffany Bradbury with Roanoke, said they are encouraging families to not be hesitant.

“I do want people to know you don’t need to have a driver’s license,” Bradbury said. “You don’t need to give your papers. We want to make sure along with the health department that these people are getting their vaccines.”

With many Latino businesses on Williamson Road, city members are also planning to sit down with owners this week to determine how they can spread the information to customers.

“If we build with the business, we build with the community as a whole,” Bradbury said.


About the Author: