While Latinos comprise only three percent of Ohio’s population, they account for more than six percent of coronavirus cases in the state, a problem being addressed by HOLA Ohio, a statewide organization working to increase vaccinations among community members.
HOLA Ohio started hosting vaccine clinics in April to make it easier for Latinos to get vaccinated and has organized 16 events to date, helping 1,412 people get their first dose and 1,095 people to get fully vaccinated.
“We see the disparities that exist in healthcare, we see the rates of chronic illness that, unfortunately, often goes untreated in the Hispanic community, and it’s for those reasons that our vaccination outreach won’t be ending anytime soon,” said HOLA Ohio program manager, Kelsey Fischer.
HOLA Ohio also delivers free COVID-19 kits to the homes of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, which include over-the-counter medicines, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, masks, and educational information about COVID-19 and safety protocols. In addition, HOLA Ohio provides free grocery delivery to the doorstep of individuals in quarantine, and in some cases even does the grocery shopping.
As part of its outreach, HOLA Ohio hosted nearly 20 community meetings with local health commissioners, providing Spanish-language interpreters so participants could learn more about the vaccines and the state of the pandemic.
In anticipation of the FDA authorization of vaccines for kids ages 5-11, HOLA Ohio is working closely with local health departments to organize additional mass vaccination clinics, with plans for one in Painesville, Ohio in October.
HOLA Ohio was founded in 1999 as an informal group of Hispanic women in Lake County who wanted to help the growing Latino community, and today focuses on vaccine outreach, community organizing, and civic engagement.