Hispanic leader teams up with college, hospital to mitigate racial disparities among COVID-19 vaccinations

Event on Kissimmee campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Florida Technical College Kissimmee campus will host a free COVID-19 vaccine event Friday with Spanish-speaking staff on site.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The Florida Technical College Kissimmee campus will host a free COVID-19 vaccine event Friday with Spanish-speaking staff on site.

In a county where more than 51% of the population is Hispanic or Latino, the Osceola County health department reported so far, about 33% of that population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 — a statistic officials are hoping to change with Friday’s event.

“After getting a lot of information from AdventHealth officials knowing that that is an underserviced population in terms of vaccines and vaccinations in general, we want to give them an opportunity to come to a centralized location here in Osceola,” Martin Levert, executive director of Florida Technical College Kissimmee campus said.

Levert said they’re still seeing low participation among Hispanics and Latinos that have not signed up for a COVID-19 vaccine shot which is why FTC, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and AdventHealth teamed up to provide a mass vaccination site inside the Plaza del Sol mall in Kissimmee.

[TRENDING: Ana, is that you? | Teacher accused of distributing child porn | Fla. couple lured, tortured bears]

“Seems like lack of information, hesitancy on the vaccine in general, people will have a wait and see approach,” Levert said. “We’ll have people here to educate as well at the event — both bilingual English and Spanish — so if anybody does have any questions about the vaccine we’ll be able to give them information on it.”

The shots are free and will be offered Friday, May 21, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 3831 West Vine St. The site is offering Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which are available to anyone over 12 years old. Those under 18 must have parent or guardian consent.

State data shows more than 45,500 Osceola County residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

“We want to make sure that the students, especially in the public high school system and Junior high system which would be 12 years old and up, have the opportunity to get vaccinated before they go out to daycares or summer camps or even doing some travel,” Levert said. “Even if it’s somebody who needs their second shot and they’ve passed the 3-week moratorium they’ll have an opportunity to get their second shot as well.”

“Part of our mission at FTC is making it a priority to keep our students, staff and communities safe,” FTC President Dr. James Michael Burkett said in a statement. “By hosting this event in partnership with AdventHealth, we hope to help address vaccine hesitancy by instilling confidence in our community with the information they need to make an informed decision. To further ease that process and improve access to the vaccine, we chose to host the event in the heart of Osceola County, where Hispanics make up more than half of the county’s population.”

FTC said they hope to administer 1,000 vaccine shots and in three weeks they’ll provide a second event at Plaza del Sol to administer the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

According to recent Centers for Disease Control data, Latinos make up 29% of COVID-19 cases and Latinos make up 18.6% of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations.

More than 159,000 people in Osceola County have had at least their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Although walk-ins are welcomed, registration is strongly encouraged.

“They go to our website FTCollege.edu and they have the direct link right on there to get registered.”

To register for the vaccination event, click or tap here.