Texas State, TAMACC, Shots Across Texas to combat Hispanic vaccine hesitancy

Staff Reports

SAN MARCOS – Hispanics in Texas are getting vaccinated at a higher rate than white non-Hispanics and blacks, according to the latest numbers from the Center for Disease Control and the Texas Department of Health. Almost 65% of Hispanics in the state have been vaccinated, according to the latest figures.

But more can be done to get the other 35% to take the shot.

That’s why Texas State University has partnered with the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC) and the state’s Shots Across Texas campaign to find out why Hispanics are hesitant to get vaccinated and how to better reach them with information about vaccine safety and importance.

In the preliminary findings from a survey of 255 Hispanics in Texas in early March, almost half said they had no plans to get the COVID vaccine by the end of 2022. Doubt about the vaccine’s effectiveness was the main reason for respondents’ hesitancy, which was greater among women than among men. Overall, a family’s influence had more impact than the opinion of religious leaders or a political party.

The research is being conducted by Texas State’s Jennifer Scharlach, assistant professor of practice in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Prisca Ngondo, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Vanessa Higgins Joyce, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Scharlach’s strategic communication campaigns class of graduate students will take the information from the survey and turn it into a new public relations campaign to help move the needle in vaccinations.

“The purpose of this study is threefold. First, to figure out what are the barriers to getting the COVID-19 vaccination,” Scharlach said. “Second, determine the target population’s intentions. Third, create a data-driven vaccination information campaign to implement in rural Texas in hopes of curbing COVID-19 related deaths in the Hispanic community.”

TAMACC, a statewide nonprofit umbrella organization for Hispanic chambers and business organizations, will share the primary data from the survey with members and other Tejano business and education leaders in a webinar next month.

“We are excited to partner with Texas State University on this Shots Across Texas campaign,” said TAMACC Foundation Chairman J.R. Gonzáles. “To get more Hispanics vaccinated, there needs to be a better understanding of the factors that lead to vaccine hesitancy.

“Having university professors and graduate students helping on this project provides our campaign with innovative minds and a fresh perspective,” he said. “Our combined efforts will save lives.”

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