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USF to host Spanish-language virtual sessions on COVID-19, vaccines

Participants can ask questions of six College of Public Health faculty members.
A vial of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine approved in February by the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday. The vaccine rollout will be the primary focus of Zoom sessions hosted by Spanish-speaking members of the University of South Florida College of Public Health, starting March 16.
A vial of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine approved in February by the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday. The vaccine rollout will be the primary focus of Zoom sessions hosted by Spanish-speaking members of the University of South Florida College of Public Health, starting March 16. [ AP ]
Published Mar. 10
Updated Mar. 12

Click here to read this article in Spanish.

The University of South Florida’s College of Public Health will host a series of Zoom discussions with Spanish-speaking faculty to discuss COVID-19 and share information about the vaccine with Spanish-speaking communities.

The first event, “Hablemos de la vacuna del COVID-19,” will be held on March 16 and feature six faculty members. It will focus mainly on the vaccine, but also address disease prevention and domestic violence.

Participants who register will have the opportunity to ask questions and the event will be streamed on the college’s Facebook page.

Arlene Calvo, a professor of community and family health and one of the panelists, said it was important to have adequate information for communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

“During the pandemic it’s been evident that the Latino community in the U.S. has been hit the hardest along with the African American community,” she said. “We need to deliver the messages for prevention, for control, immunization in the language the Latino community understands. This is true for every health issue that effects us, but most importantly now, during the pandemic.”

While information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, accurate — and appropriate — translations don’t always keep up. Official sources of information are often directly translated into jargon-heavy terms and nuances are lost. Instead, misinformation spreads more quickly through social media and family group chats.

“We haven’t seen a lot of formal Spanish delivery in the U.S.,” Calvo said. “Culturally, we tend to rely a lot on home remedies and we know that sometimes we need a little more than that trying to treat COVID. So we’re working on trying to get the most science-based information to our Latino communities in general and trying to deliver that message in a more appropriate way.”

The researchers are also developing short videos to be shared on social media.

Research supports that those who receive care from providers in their language are more likely to stay with treatment and follow up with their provider, said Dr. Miguel Reina Ortiz, a USF professor of global communicable diseases and global health practice.

He said it’s also important that efforts to communicate address diversity within Spanish-speaking populations.

“It’s important to understand we’re not just speaking about one-community,” he said. “It’s very different if you’re talking about people who have their origins in Mexico or Costa Rica or El Salvador or Colombia or Ecuador or Argentina.... One size-doesn’t fit all in Spanish as well.”

Those interested in attending the series can register here.