Vaccinate Abuela Chicago

CBS 2's Meredith Barack reports on efforts by a Chicago group helping communities of color to get appointments for the COVID vaccine.

Video Transcript

MEREDITH BARACK: Brad, city data shows that as of March 17, only 16% of the Latinx community and only 14% of the Black community have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The group Vaccinate Abuela Chicago has now made it their goal to share resources and find appointments in the communities hardest hit by COVID-19.

ESTEBAN ANDRES CRUZ: Because, as we know, this has affected way more people of color as far as deaths are concerned. It really hit both the Black and Brown communities in Chicago.

MEREDITH BARACK: City data shows COVID has already killed more than 3,600 Black or Latino Chicagoans. So Esteban Andres Cruz said when the vaccine rollout efforts began, he knew he needed to do something.

ESTEBAN ANDRES CRUZ: These groups of people are already disenfranchised from health care and other things. So we were kind of used to having to fight extra just to get the bare minimum for our own immediate families as well as for our communities.

MEREDITH BARACK: Alongside Anna Lopez, the two co-founded Vaccinate Abuela Chicago focused on helping Black and Brown communities, especially senior citizens, find and make appointments for COVID-19 vaccine. He says those groups face far more obstacles when trying to get vaccinated.

ESTEBAN ANDRES CRUZ: Like building a Walgreens account, you know, or any of the [? zodac ?] or COVID-19 for Cook County, any of these things-- a lot of times, it'll ask for their social security number or for if you have health insurance. And a lot of these people also do not have either of those things.

MEREDITH BARACK: Cruz says on top of a lack of internet or computer, language barriers or a fear of deportation can also play a role in the ability to make an appointment. They're not only helping through their Facebook group, but they're encouraging people to ask around their neighborhoods and find out if people need help.

ESTEBAN ANDRES CRUZ: Go on and look for more seniors-- go on and ask the bodega that you work at. Ask the people that work there, has everybody gotten vaccinated? Do you have an abuela? Do you have a titi, a tio who needs the vaccine still?

MEREDITH BARACK: While the Facebook group has grown to more than 300 members, Cruz says the grassroots effort has helped hundreds of others find an appointment. A responsibility he says is important because one day we too will be an abuela, someone's grandmother.