Puerto Rican actor Luis Guzmán (Boogie Nights), hasn’t received the COVID-19 vaccine yet, but he says when it’s his turn, he will get it.
“I’m getting vaccinated,” Guzmán, 64, told Remezcla during an interview earlier this week. “But it’s not just about a vaccine. That’s only one part. Your wellness is the bigger picture.”
Guzmán is one of several Latinx actors, health care professionals, writers, business leaders and activists who are coming together to help educate their community about the COVID-19 vaccines with the initiative “It’s Up to You/De Ti Depende.”
Leading the way are members of the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative, who consider the initiative “one of the largest public education efforts in U.S. history.”
According to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 48% of Latinos said they would either wait and see about getting the vaccine, get it if only it was required or definitely not get it at all. In comparison, 52% of Latinos polled had already received the vaccine or would get it as soon as possible. The skepticism among Latinos to get the vaccine stems from mistrust in medical institutions based on past mistreatment and racism and a need for health-related education.
“I don’t blame [Latinos] for having doubts because of the experiences that I have seen in our community with doctors and pharmaceuticals,” Guzmán said. “Also, one of the things that is lacking is wellness education in our community.”
Guzmán is looking beyond COVID-19. Whether you decide to get the vaccine or not, it won’t matter if people don’t take care of themselves long term. “Latinos have to ask themselves, ‘Do I exercise? Do I drink a lot of water?’” he said.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest statistics, more than 173,000 Americans with comorbidities and other conditions have died from COVID-19. This includes heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, which are prevalent in Latinos.
“When it comes to our community, we deal with a lot of health issues,” Guzmán said. “It’s up to us to educate ourselves and do stuff like eat right. The level of obesity and disease in this country all stems from our food source. I think the Latino community needs to start talking about these things.”
A free virtual event will take place March 12 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PST where experts will discuss the COVID-19 vaccines and overall family wellness. To register for the virtual event, visit Hispanicize.com.