Building Trust in the Latinx Community About the Vaccine

October 4, 2021
Medical doctors discuss building trust in the Latinx communities about vaccines.

Medical doctors discuss building trust in the Latinx communities about vaccines.

Addison Smith

The conversation leaned very heavily into systemic racism and how it erodes trust built up by our public healthcare system. “It makes it understandable, we’re in a tough position…you put yourself at risk and it puts you into a vicious cycle where you’re hurting a community over and over again…but it’s all about rebuilding that trust.” said Dr. Baldwin. It’s a tough obstacle, but they are all ready and prepared to build up that trust again and work with everyone in our county to create an overall strong vaccinated Sonoma County. 

A panel of physicians and other trained medical professionals met on September 20 to discuss vaccine hesitancy and trust building in the Latinx community that might need the extra push to get over the hump of our fragmented healthcare system that has continuously been disenfranchised.

The panelists included Dr. Jose Morales, Ezequiel Guzman, Brian Prystowsky, and Dr. Kismet Baldwin. The conversation was moderated by Rocio Rodriguez and put on by the Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County (CAP) who hosts the “Community Conversations about Race” series.

Dr. Guzman discussed how in Cloverdale he and a small team went out to the barrios and went door to door. He discussed the importance of the vaccine and why it is critical that many in the community should get it. “It creates accessibility, it’s critical to take it out to the community and make it more accessible…We had a Catholic priest come out to discuss with religious members of our community who were vaccine hesitant…lo and behold they all got the vaccine further saving lives.”

He then goes on to discuss how the best way to rid the world of hesitancy is to talk with people, answer their questions, and discuss. Dr. Prystowsky added on how “We need a Sonoma Strong mentality…we need an ‘I know we need to get vaccinated’ mentality,” and how “the government shouldn’t be seen as non-human and people need to go out and talk with people to help them see the data and see the numbers although we have been hit with data pretty quickly…the vaccine is clearly the right choice.”

Vaccines and public health work hand in hand, although the vaccine “is bigger than public health,” said Dr. Baldwin. “It’s all about building trust, we need to learn about the lives and cultures of people in poverty…which can be done by building trust day by day with acts of kindness,” explained Dr. Ezequiel. They went out to deliver food, supplies, and just talk with people and discuss issues that they could help with.

These panelists all discussed trust building, vaccine hesitancy, how to work with people to get them to get vaccinated, and how to build back better. I believe that all these doctors had amazing points and really worked in tandem with each other to help each other find new ways to build trust within their communities. 

Rocio closed out the conversation by asking what further support they need to better educate the population on vaccines. Dr. Baldwin believes “we need mental health support, funding, resources, man power, and great people to collaborate within the community…you need it all, we can’t just hit this from one angle.” Dr. Morales interjected with the idea of herd immunity, “we need herd immunity and this conversation we had allows us to have a small megaphone into that concept.”

This conversation was a brilliant one, many interesting points were brought up, but what I really enjoyed was their in depth discussion on how Dr. Guzman went in personally to help the Latinx community. He started off with an anecdote about how he went door to door connecting with many members of Cloverdale to allow for them to see him as a friendly and trust-worthy face. For the community, being able to see his face and ask him important questions were some of the many reasons they eventually felt safe enough to get the vaccine. I feel that here in Sonoma County, we should follow Dr. Guzman’s lead in going into the community and helping the vaccine hesitant get together and help get the vaccine. The medical community has to work hard to build trust, spread facts, and logic to combat so much misinformation already out there. It’s a heavy task, but if the medical community works hard enough I believe we can get it done.   

You can watch this community conversation on race here. If you’d like to check out older community conversations on race check them out here.