Editor’s note: María Cardona is a Democratic strategist, commentator on political issues on CNN and CNN en Español. She is considered one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the United States. Cardona has more than two decades of experience in politics, government, public relations, and community affairs. She was a senior advisor and spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008, and later was a key representative of the Obama for America election campaign, a role she reprized in the 2012 elections. Cardona was also the director of communications for the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2001. 2003. The opinions expressed in this column are solely his own. Read more opinion pieces at cnne.com/opinion.
(CNN Spanish) – Coming into Thanksgiving week, we have a lot to be thankful for. We have come a long way in protecting ourselves from covid-19. But it was not always like this.
More than a year and a half ago, the United States was seized by a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of more than 773,200 people. As usual, what affects the country in general always affects the Latino community in a disproportionate way. 27% of COVID-19 cases and 18% of deaths in the US come from our communities. Latinos are 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than the general population. And the odds of Latinos dying from COVID-19 are 2.1 times higher than the rest of the population.
Many Latinos, by the way, have been at the forefront of the pandemic since its inception occupying essential jobs such as those in agricultural fields and medical facilities. Many were those who cared for the sick, those who died, cleaning hospital rooms, and making it possible for all of us to continue putting food on our tables.
Tragically, early in the pandemic, many Latinos – like other minorities – worked without access to protective equipment, as well as on personal time if they or a loved one became ill.
That is why it was so concerning that when the covid-19 vaccines came out, we saw some hesitation among the Latino community, and the vaccination among our people was not reaching sufficient levels. And it was even more important that Latinos get vaccinated when the delta variant of the new coronavirus emerged that was more infectious, dangerous and lethal and that was sweeping mostly in unvaccinated communities.
And why weren’t Latinos getting vaccinated? Part of the problem is that unfortunately, they also face another pandemic: that of disinformation. This is just as dangerous as the virus, as it was causing many Latinos to be easy victims of the virus and its variants.
Due to all these reasons and the hesitancy of many to get vaccinated, the Ad Council and the COVID Collaborative have joined forces to promote the “It depends on you” campaign. https://spanish.getvaccineanswers.org/ This unprecedented campaign focused not only on urging Latinos to get vaccinated, but also on providing them with the correct information about covid-19 vaccines from experts, leaders, and other trusted sources.
The experts and leaders who supported and participated in this campaign were from all regions of the country, medical experts who offered their skills to inform our community. Also participating were national leaders of Hispanic organizations and religious leaders whose voices have been essential, as they have focused on the importance of religion and science working together to eradicate the pandemic.
This campaign uses experts to provide the correct information and debunk myths and misinformation about covid-19 vaccines. For example, everyone has been very clear that vaccines do not cause any harm to fertility in women or pregnant women. What’s more, they clarify that vaccines protect the lives of pregnant women and their babies. Experts also talk about how easy it is to get vaccinated, the documents needed to get inoculated, and how to make an appointment.
So far, these efforts have reached millions of people in the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from March to May, only 33.7% of Latinos in the country were fully vaccinated. However, the most recent statistics tell us that Latinos are on par with the national percentage of people vaccinated. According to CDC statistics for November, 54% of Latinos in the country have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and in total Latinos make up 17% of the population that has been vaccinated.
These numbers show us that the efforts have paid off and that when the Latino community is armed with information that comes from reliable sources, and feels safe and secure, they will get vaccinated. Debunking myths and providing the right information is half the battle, and while there is still a lot to do, seeing this trailer is encouraging.
The pandemic still threatens our lives and well-being. But with the latest medical advances – the CDC approved the use of certain COVID-19 vaccines in children ages 5 to 11, expanding the recommendation to 28 million children in that demographic, and Pfizer has developed a pill that reduces hospitalization and death rates by almost 90% for high-risk people, which could be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the coming weeks — it is in our hands to defeat the virus and prevent keep mutating.
We can do it by educating ourselves and getting vaccinated. We have to protect our families, friends and community. And so we can give thanks for so much more!