Advocates Combat COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy In Undocumented Communities

Nearly 13 percent of the entire population of Illinois is fully vaccinated. But CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker discovered there is still a lot of hesitation in one particular community.

Video Transcript

BRAD EDWARDS: Nearly 13% of the state's entire population fully vaccinated.

IRAKA SARGENT: But CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker discovered there's still a lot of hesitation in one particular community, and we all need to make it a priority to make sure they're not left out.

DOROTHY TUCKER: A steady stream of cars lines up on this cold February day. People inside receive more than just food from community volunteers here in Little Village.

KARINA AYALA-BERMEJO: Fresh produce, fresh vegetables.

DOROTHY TUCKER: They get potentially life-saving information too.

KARINA AYALA-BERMEJO: Every individual who's waiting in line is being asked if they'd like to be vaccinated.

DOROTHY TUCKER: It's a partnership between Instituto del Progresso Latino and Oak Street Health.

KARINA AYALA-BERMEJO: In our community having so many obstacles to register and to obtain the vaccination, we knew that Instituto had to step up with partnerships like you just saw.

DOROTHY TUCKER: A coming together health experts say is vital to controlling the virus.

AYO OLAGOKE: We need credible messengers.

DOROTHY TUCKER: There are many myths for these messengers to dispel. Ayo Olagoke with UIC's School of Public Health studies vaccine hesitancy, particularly among communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

AYO OLAGOKE: The top on the list has been safety. We've also had concerns around effectiveness, the vaccine-development process.

DOROTHY TUCKER: But for one group, there are other concerns too.

What are the reasons for hesitancy, especially among the undocumented immigrants?

AYO OLAGOKE: We've had people say things like this is just a plot to maybe trace us. If I'm undocumented, I don't know if you're going to share this data with immigration.

DOROTHY TUCKER: ICE has said that won't happen.


DOROTHY TUCKER: But CBS 2 spoke with four undocumented women who aren't convinced. These are essential workers who want to remain anonymous. They told us many in their communities simply don't trust the government.


INTERPRETER: I believe that there are so many abuses that we have had and deceptions.

DOROTHY TUCKER: Their definition of abuse and deception, the government's handling of undocumented immigrants at the border.


INTERPRETER: That's why sometimes we no longer want to believe reality.

DOROTHY TUCKER: Many are particularly worried about giving out personal information to get the shot.


INTERPRETER: Asking them their birthday, their address, and for that reason, people decline getting a vaccine.

DOROTHY TUCKER: More concerns those trusted community groups are trying to combat.

KARINA AYALA-BERMEJO: You're not going to be in a database where your private information is going to be revealed.


DOROTHY TUCKER: But if those fears persist and the undocumented remain unvaccinated, Olagoke worries about the impact on everyone.

AYO OLAGOKE: Infectious diseases don't know. They don't care about your status. Whether they're documented or not, they can transmit the virus.

DOROTHY TUCKER: Now in order to get more undocumented residents vaccinated, community leaders say that state officials should waive the ID requirement. If a person feels uncomfortable showing an ID, they should be allowed to get a vaccine anyway. That, they say, will increase the numbers that are needed. Iraka.

IRAKA SARGENT: All right. So, Dorothy, how did the partnership, the one with Oak Street Health, actually go?

DOROTHY TUCKER: You know, it turned out very well. 20 people that day received the vaccine. Many more of them signed up just from that one event, and that is the sort of thing that we need to see.

IRAKA SARGENT: Definitely that progress. Thank you, Dorothy.

Well, here's a closer look at the race/ethnicity of those who have gotten the first shot in Chicago through March 10. 36% are white, 30% Latinx, 24% Black, and 6% Asian.