Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, MIRA has been fighting to protect the immigrant community in Mississippi. In the early months of the pandemic, we sourced and distributed masks to immigrants, and when COVID testing became available, we collaborated with the Mississippi Department of Health to host pop-up testing sites around the state. We also distributed food and financial aid to families in need.
This year, we’ve focused on getting the vaccine to communities of color, which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. MIRA organizer Luis Espinoza is working closely with partners like the Mississippi State Department of Health, the Jackson Free Clinic (a volunteer-based organization that provides free healthcare to uninsured Mississippians), the Institute for Advancement of Minority Health, Jackson State University, and others, to provide free vaccination drives and combat misinformation.
As of August 2021, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) found that Hispanics/Latinos had received only 2% of total vaccination doses administered in the state. One of the reasons for this is that many immigrants have been turned away from vaccination sites after being asked for driver licenses, Social Security numbers, or health insurance cards, which the state and the federal government do not require. In addition, vaccination providers frequently communicate only in English, which many of the vaccination seekers do not entirely comprehend.
We’re committed to providing language-appropriate vaccination drives within immigrant communities, so we we’ve hosted events in partnership with churches and community groups in Carthage, Canton, Forest, Morton, Laurel, and Hazlehurst; and in the near future will have events in Vicksburg and on the Gulf Coast. In addition, we hold live transmissions on our social media pages to educate, provide information, and answer questions.
As of September 2021, more than 1,400 doses have been administered through our partnerships in immigrant communities across the state. Our work is critical to improving vaccination rates in the community and protecting the health and safety of immigrants in Mississippi.
It is important to note that our community work is possible thanks to the contribution of friends like you. As soon as the shot is authorized for those under 12 years of age, we will begin a very important vaccination campaign for children. Please donate whatever you can, so we may continue working for the benefit of all our communities in need.