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Seattle Hispanic Heritage Month events focus on boosting COVID-19 vaccination rates

Hispanic community leaders in western Washington say Latinx are lagging behind in vaccination numbers and they hope to turn that around.

SEATTLE — Sept. 15 marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Several celebrations are kicking off the first week, but some community leaders said it’s also an opportunity to get members of the Hispanic and Latinx community protected against COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, around 65% of King County’s Hispanic and Latinx population age 12 and older is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Public Health – Seattle and King County data. Nearly 79% of eligible King County residents ages 12 and up have completed their vaccination series, the data shows.

Out of the 181,000 people in the county’s Hispanic and Latinx population, a little more than 60,000 are still not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the department’s data as of Sept. 15.

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The well-known annual celebration Sea Mar Fiestas Patrias has a virtual celebration set for Saturday, Sept. 18, followed by an event focused on fitness and health the next day. The event on Sept. 19, will host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic, offering both first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“We are using our Fiestas Patrias celebrations to attract them, to vaccinate them, and to have a healthy exercise,” said Jorge Madrazo, chairman of Sea Mar Fiestas Patrias. “Latinos are overrepresented in the unvaccinated community. This is pretty concerning, and we want to invite once again our people to get the vaccine. We need to convince them that this is the way to be safe and healthy.”

The virtual event Saturday at noon will feature cultural representations from Mexico, Peru, El Salvador and Guatemala. You can watch the virtual event by clicking here.

Sunday’s in-person fitness and health fair will offer people the chance to try all skill levels of Zumba classes while also receiving general health education and a COVID-19 vaccine. This event runs from noon to 5 p.m. at Sea Mar Community Center, located at 9635 Des Moines Memorial Dr. South in Seattle.

Breaking barriers 

A spokesperson for Public Health – Seattle and King County told KING 5 that some social and economic barriers to the COVID-19 vaccine remain even as the team has hosted or supported nearly 100 community vaccination events since March, all geared toward BIPOC and immigrant communities.

Getting time off from work to get a COVID-19 shot is among the barriers the public health department said might stand in the way of Hispanic or Latinx community members getting vaccinated. The department said this community also tends to be younger than the community at large and may not have equal access to health care, which is a result of systemic racism and bias.

The county health department said it is continuing several vaccination events throughout the area. 

The next events geared specifically for the Hispanic and Latinx community are scheduled for Sept. 24 at Lake Burien Presbyterian Church and Sept. 25 at the Auburn Health Fair.