In a recent briefing organized by the Ethnic Media Services, information was shared geared towards immigrants to learn about COVID-19 vaccine availability, safety, and how to avoid vaccination scams. Experts also addressed immigrants’ concerns about the Public Charge rule and the continued availability of COVID testing.
Rigoberto Reyes, Executive Director of LA County’s Office of Immigrant Affairs moderated this event. Rigo expressed the importance of disseminating information that is relevant to immigrant communities through trusted voices. Many of these immigrants are afraid to access resources during the COVID 19 pandemic for fear of affecting their status.
Isaac Cuevas, Director of Immigration and Public Affairs, Archdiocese of Los Angeles spoke in terms of FAITH as a culture. In Archbishop Gomez’s message , ” we need to approach this emergency with faith and confidence in God and also providence.” We need to support immigrant communities through resources, advocacy, and education.
On resources, there is a Hearts to serve hotline at 855-423-6780 in collaboration with the Knights Of Columbus. Manned by volunteers who help purchase groceries for those who can’t, offer direct relief to people in food shelters or through phone calls. Donations and grants are also taken to help provide emergency financial relief. Catholic schools have been open virtually in low-income areas and donations have been spent on sporting equipment.
On education, they gather information from the community, and pastors and faith leaders have been trained to educate and bring correct information about the virus and vaccines as well as protocols for staying safe. They have also been encouraging people to get tested especially in the Latino and immigrant communities.
On advocacy, a picture of the Archbishop receiving his vaccine was circulated to encourage others to trust the science and get the vaccine when it is their turn.
He shared that from a faith standpoint getting vaccinated is morally acceptable and the best way to love thy neighbor is to get vaccinated. The parish is willing and ready to partner with organizations in the community. He finished with Pope Francis’ 7 crisis items brought on by the pandemic including:
- and human relations which is the most important
Dr. Eloisa Gonzalez, MD, MPH, County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, shared updates on the pandemic. Vaccines continue to be free and available to everyone regardless of immigration status. She emphasized that no-one can be turned down or asked about status once the appointment is scheduled.
Inequities persist she shared in communities of color. Mortality continues to drop but still higher compared to other groups.
About the debate on Astrazeneca being unsafe, there should be no worry in this area since it is not one of the vaccines administered here. By the month of May, however, there should be enough vaccines for ages 16 and above.; Right now teenagers 16 or older can get Pfizer, vaccine Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have not been approved for them yet. Under 16 cannot get the vaccine yet as it is still in trial.
Appointments for vaccines can be made at publichealth.lacounty.gov. eligibility information, what is needed and required id as well other needed documentation can be found there as well.
Dr. Erika Flores Uribe, Emergency Medicine, County of Los Angeles Department of Health Services discussed how to get access to healthcare regardless of immigration status as well. There has been a rapid drop in infections and hospitalizations since January. Vaccination rates have also increased but disparities persist as well in communities of color, blacks, and Latinx. There is some immunity among those infected before and those vaccinated but not enough to prevent a surge.
When eligible she insisted to please take the vaccine. Who should get tested include:
- people with symptoms
- not received vaccine or have not received full vaccine if exposed
- public health experts or on doctors’ requests
Those who do not need testing include
- no symptoms
- are fully vaccinated
- no exposure to Covid 19
Continuing to make testing and vaccine free regardless of immigrant status. It is now possible to walk up without an appointment for testing. Promote pop-up and mobile and mobile clinics for communities.
To get testing information: dial 211 or Covid19.lacounty/testing
or get a recommendation from a doctor. If there is no primary care call 844-804-0055.
Daniel Sharp, Chief, County of Los Angeles Office of Immigrant Affairs, shared vital information to ease fears among immigrants afraid of affecting their status. Vaccinations or testing has no impact on immigration status he shared, stating that health and medical information is private information and not affected by the Public Charge Rule. which is affected only in certain situations. Currently, the application has been suspended and reversed to the 2019 application.