STOCKTON, California — Convincing Latino adults the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective has been difficult. Now, community advocates have the daunting task of convincing families the Pfizer vaccine at a lower dose will be safe in children ages 5 to 11.
"I just don't feel like they need it right now," said Stockton parent Conchita Gallegos. "Maybe when they get a little bit older."
She has a nine-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter.
"They're too young. Like maybe when they're fifteen or older, yeah," said Gallegos.
In San Joaquin County, only 41% of the Latino population is fully vaccinated.
And, Latinos have the highest percentage of deaths per any race/ethnicity group in the county at 37%.
668 who have lost their lives to the virus.
"And a lot of folks are using the pretext that there are still a lot of unknowns about the vaccine," said Jose Rodriguez, president & CEO of the non-profit community-based El Concilio in Stockton.
► Stay in the know! Sign up now for the Daily Blend Newsletter for local headlines, weather, tips and even something to make you smile.
Rodriguez says it will take talking to parents one-on-one to ensure the vaccine is safe.
But, he said employer mandates are now driving more hesitant Latinos to get vaccinated.
"And then some of them are also, believe it or not, because they know it's going to be available to children soon, they want to be the first. They say if my family is going to have to get this, I'll get it first and see if it has any side effects on me. And, then I'll get my children vaccinated because I'll know I'll have to do that down the line," said Rodriguez.
The San Joaquin County Public Health Director says the department has already received 1,100 Pfizer doses for kids.
Dr. Maggie Park told the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors Tuesday the department could start vaccinating children younger than 12 this Thursday or Friday.