HOUSTON - Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo rolling up her sleeve at a mobile vaccination site at Pitner Pocket Park in Spring Branch.
"Alright," she said cheerfully after getting the vaccine and onlookers applauded.
As a woman of color, she vouched for the vaccine's safety and importance.
"Spread the word that you don't need to be a U.S. citizen to have a vaccine; that you don't need to have insurance to have a vaccine; that you don't need to pay to get the vaccine," Hidalgo urged.
However, she also wanted to send a message to vaccine providers. She highlighted Spring Branch Community Health Center for going a step further to reach communities hit hardest by the vaccine. They hosted the mobile vaccination site near largely Latino apartment complexes. Their goal is to vaccinate the more than 6,000 residents.
"We will continue taking the vaccines into the community. We do want to provide access and just make it very flexible and within reach to everyone out there," said Marlen Trujillo, CEO, Spring Branch Community Health.
Hidalgo hopes other vaccine providers will do the same.
"That's my call to action to other vaccine providers to lower those barriers to access. Do not make it only online or to where it fills up in midnight, at six in the morning," she noted.
National and state data show a significant gap between whites and non-whites.
As of Thursday, the CDC reports more than 56 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated. Race and ethinicity information is available for more than half of those and nearly 70% White, Blacks and Latinos are less than eight percent, and all other groups are four percent or less.g
In Texas, Whites make up 41% of those fully vaccinated, Latinos are 21%, and Blacks are six percent.
The gap is smaller locally. Houston and Harris County health departments including the site at NRG report Whites make up about 35%, Latinos just less than 25%, and Black and Asians are about 10%. Latinos make up more than 40% of the county's population whereas Whites are less than 30%.
"In Harris County, we are doing our part. We have vaccination centers all throughout the county. We provide transportation to folks who don't have it," Hidalgo said.
To register for the vaccine over the phone with Harris County, call (832) 927-8787.