Georgia officials hold roundtable on vaccinating Latino community

With a state as diverse as Georgia, officials think they cannot take a "one-size-fits-all" approach to messaging about COVID-19 vaccines.

"One communication message isn't going to work for every community," said Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey. "One type of vaccination site isn't going to work the same for all communities and that's why we're looking to create a very diverse array of different ways to communicate, 'micro-messaging' for different communities across the state."

Dr. Toomey, Gov. Brian Kemp, and Insurance Commissioner John King participated in a roundtable discussion about vaccine distribution at the Latin American Association Thursday. The panel included local faith, business, and community leaders.

"We were able to discuss the vaccine in the Latino community and not just problems, but solutions," said Latin American Association CEO Santiago Marquez.

(FOX 5)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 10% of Georgia's population is Hispanic or Latino and Gov. Kemp said that community, along with others, has some hesitancy about the vaccine.

"That is why we are doing this today is to make sure that the Latino community understands that this vaccine is available. It's going to become more available in the days ahead. It is safe. It is effective," said Gov. Kemp. "Dr. Toomey has gotten hers. General King has gotten his. Santiago said he got his. I will be getting mine very shortly. We want to encourage others to do so to protect them, to protect their families, their neighbors, and those that they are working with."

Commissioner King, who speaks Spanish and has been a central figure in the state's outreach to Hispanic communities during the pandemic, said community leaders will be critical in the vaccine rollout.

"It is great now to be able to get the local leaders who have that credibility to help get that message across to our community and to all Georgians," said King.

Marquez said Thursday's roundtable was just the first step in what will be an ongoing partnership.

"We really need to keep this going," said Marquez. "We can't rest until we've gotten where we need to get to in terms of vaccinations."

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