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San Jose pushes to get COVID-19 vaccine to hard-hit communities

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – Fear of the vaccine and language barriers are hampering efforts to vaccinate people in the hardest-hit parts of the South Bay.

Outreach to those areas is being stepped up and there is a call for volunteers.

As part of the effort to vaccinate people in the county’s hardest-hit zip codes, like 95122,  no appointment was necessary at this pop-up vaccination site at Story and King in East San Jose. 

Many of those who got the shot are over 65.  

Although nearly half of all county residents over 65 have received their first dose of vaccine, so far less than 10-percent live in these hard-hit neighborhoods while they account for 28-percent of deaths.  

At the nearby Mexican Heritage Plaza, open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, the number of people receiving their first shot is approaching three thousand but there’s a long way to go.    

Calling on the community for volunteers who can serve as translators to get the word out to underserved communities is San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

“First, these vaccines are very safe, they’re very effective and secondly, we need volunteers. We particularly need volunteers who speak Spanish and other languages, who can help us in outreach,” Liccardo said.

Adding a sense of urgency, the county is set to expand vaccine eligibility at the end of the month, even as vaccine supplies are still scarce.   

Getting vaccinated is the only way to be part of the solution says Gardner Health Services CEO, Reymundo Espinoza.

“The challenge is going to be that in the future other groups are going to be allowed to get the vaccination so we want to make an effort to get the folks 65+ to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, hopefully before the end of the month because we hear that there are going to be some changes at the end of the month,” Espinoza said.

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