latinos-doctors-vaccine Dr. Gabriela Maradiaga Panayotti gets a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Duke University Hospital in Durham on Monday, Dec. 15, 2020.
Image via Shawn Rocco/Duke Health

Two Duke University doctors say that getting the vaccine is safer for Latinos than getting infected with COVID.

Some see the COVID-19 vaccine as the light at the end of the tunnel—others, not so much. Some in the Latino community are not just hesitant about getting the vaccine, they are downright skeptical and afraid. That is why two Latina doctors at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina wanted to share that they got the COVID vaccine. 

On Dec. 15, Dr. Gabriela Maradiaga-Panayotti, a pediatrician and associate professor at Duke, and Dr. Viviana Martínez-Bianchi, a family doctor that leads Duke’s Health Equity Department for Family Medicine and Community Health, said they were excited to share their experience with Latinos to show them that the vaccine is safe and critical to their health. 

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“It is a moment of hope and an honor for me,” Dr. Martínez-Bianchi said in an interview with Duke University. She added that she was thrilled that Duke asked her to participate in getting the vaccine for her to inspire Latinos who are hesitant to get the vaccine. 

“The vaccine is safe,” Dr. Martínez-Bianchi said. “I got it. I trust our community of researchers and people who have worked endless hours to make sure they delivered to us a safe vaccine.” 

Latinos Are Cautious About the Vaccine

Dr. Viviana Martínez-Bianchi gets a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Duke University Hospital in Durham on Monday, Dec. 15, 2020.
Image via Shawn Rocco/Duke Health

According to Pew Research Center, 63% of Latinos say they will get vaccinated. An Associated Press survey shows even less confidence, with 34% of Latinos saying they will get vaccinated.

During a weekly Zoom call with Dr. Martínez-Bianchi and her Duke LATIN-19 (Latinx Advocacy Team & Interdisciplinary Network for COVID-19) program, Latino members of the community expressed their concerns about getting the vaccine primarily because of who is behind it. 

Some expressed that they do not trust the Trump administration and pharmaceutical companies. Others said they didn’t want to share their immigration status with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because it’s a government agency. Some also inquired about how much the vaccine would cost (it’s generally free). Others said they wanted to wait and see. 

Latina Doctor: Don’t Be Scared

Dr. Martínez-Bianchi said these are all valid concerns. However, “there is nothing to be afraid of.” 

“This is going to help us, as a community, to combat this serious virus,” she added. 

For Latinos who are skeptical of the science behind the vaccine, Dr. Martínez-Bianchi said that getting the vaccine didn’t hurt. She also said it didn’t feel any different from any other shot. 

RELATED: 63% of Latinos Say They Will Get the Coronavirus Vaccine. That Number Needs to Be Higher.

Dr. Martínez-Bianchi said for Latinos who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, getting the vaccine is critical to prevent death. 

“It is much safer for Latinos to get the vaccine than to get infected with COVID-19.”