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CDC has partnered with WhatsApp, a social media messaging platform, to deliver COVID-19 vaccine information to Spanish-speaking users to encourage them to get the shot.
The chat, “Mi Chat Sobre Vacunas COVID,” is live and available here.
“Once the user replies with ‘hola,’ the app returns a menu of options. [These include] information about nearby vaccination sites, transportation to and from the location and answers to frequently asked questions,” according to NBC News.
CDC is making vaccine equity is a vital goal to end the coronavirus pandemic. They define equity as preferential access and administration to those who have been most affected by COVID-19.
Latino Usage of WhatsApp
Over 30 million Latinos use WhatsApp.
They use it much more than other social media platforms, according to eMarketer.com
“Latino user base of 32 million is growing because of its data cost savings, messaging encryption capabilities and popularity in Latin American countries and WhatsApp beats out Instagram and Twitter among Latino users,” according to the eMarketer.
In fact, Latinos were 57% more likely than their peers to use social media channels as a primary source of coronavirus information, according to an industry report.
“WhatsApp creates a unique way for anybody outside of the United States to filter inaccurate or deliberately misleading information into the country” Randy Pestana, assistant director of research at Florida International University’s Institute for public policy, said to the press.
COVID-19 Misinformation on Social Media, Leading to Vaccine Hesitancy
But the rise of social media during the pandemic also brought abundant misinformation.
“It’s the repetition [of misinformation] that worries me,” said Eveyln Pérez-Verdía, a strategist who tracks Spanish disinformation, according to NBC News. “People are seeing this constantly.”
Over 70% of Latinos say they are probably or definitely going to get vaccinated, according to a poll by the Kasier Family Foundation.
But that intent has not proven reality.
As of June 14, 2021, only 36% of Latinos have had at least one vaccine dose, compared to 45% of white people, according another Kaiser poll.
Also, Salud America!‘s review of vaccine data reveal that all 44 states with demographics on COVID-19 vaccine distribution show that Latinos are getting vaccinated at a lower percentage than their state’s Latino population percentage.
“Preventing racial disparities in the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines is important to mitigate the disproportionate impacts of the virus for people of color,” according to the Kaiser report. “Reaching high vaccination rates across individuals and communities will be key for achieving broader population immunity through a vaccine.”
Bringing Latinos from Vaccine Hesitancy to Vaccine Confidence
Experts say we still need more coronavirus vaccine information available in Spanish.
The new WhatsApp chat will help fill that gap.
“This new Spanish-language vaccine finder the CDC developed makes it easy to find a location to get the shot, order a free ride to get there and get information,” according to a release.
Here is how you can build vaccine confidence for Latino communities.
You can also help our Salud America! team share the stories of real Latinos who overcame misinformation, got the vaccine, reconnected with family, and are helping end the pandemic!
Or share Salud America!’s “Juntos, We Can Stop COVID-19” campaign. The campaign features bilingual, culturally relevant fact sheets, infographics, and video role model stories. These encourage Latinos to change their public health behaviors, including getting the vaccine when available.
Bring the campaign with your friends, family, and colleagues!