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If my community matters, this shot matters

Juan Santacoloma Juan Santacoloma, multicultural outreach specialist, Chesterfield County School System

“COVID-19 does not differentiate your skin color, language, nationality or immigration status,” Santacoloma said.

Black and Latino communities have borne the brunt of COVID infections and deaths due largely to socioeconomic factors and the fact that many are frontline workers who can’t work from home. Santacoloma spends his workdays educating Latino families on the importance of the vaccine to get kids back in classrooms. That, he said, is why this shot matters.

“There are many misperceptions among the Latino community about the vaccine, and our job is to let them know the truth about the vaccination — why they need it, and why the whole family needs the vaccine,” Santacoloma said. “The job is reinforcing to these people that the vaccine helps us make sure the schools are safe for them.”

He wants immigrants who may distrust the vaccine to ask questions. “If you don’t know something, ask. Don’t believe those who are not familiar with the reality,” he said. “Call your health department, call your doctor. Ask those people who know the truth.”

To get vaccinated, go to vaccinate.virginia.gov. To read more stories like this, visit vcuhealth.org/thisshotmatters.