St. Anthony Hospital 'educators' hit streets to combat vaccine hesitancy in Black, Latinx neighborhoods

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On Chicago's West Side, one hospital is involved in a community effort to vaccinate.
Saint Anthony Hospital is encouraging residents who qualify for phase 1B in the predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods it serves to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Just before checking out, Evangelina Urbina was stopped by Patrica Palato, a St. Anthony Hospital community educator who spent the afternoon in the very busy El Guero Grocery in the city's Back of the Yards neighborhood. Palato's mission is to convince people to get the COVID vaccine. Urbina was sold.

"She loved the information," Palato said. "She is an essential worker and she worried about getting sick."

Once someone agrees, St. Anthony community educators call and make an almost immediate appointment, where the vaccines are being administered at St. Anthony Hospital.

"The main focus is to go one-on-one with them through the whole process, we answer all the questions about the vaccine," she said.

With so much vaccine hesitancy within Black and brown neighborhoods served by St. Anthony's, the hospital realized the only way to get people vaccinated was through an educational process.

"The best way to do it in the community was to find community people that we can train, educate and they go out and educate the community one-on-one," said Guy Medaglia, CEO, St. Anthony Hospital.

Right now, St. Anthony has about 30 community educators working the grocery stores, laundromats and churches. As more vaccine becomes available, the goal is to have over 100.

The key is going to where the people are. Community educators convinced Tamale vendor Esteban Landa to get the vaccine.

"Very happy," he said.
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