FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – California Latinos continue to be heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Association Fund, their life expectancy decreased by six years during the pandemic. That’s more than any other ethnic group. The disparity may be because of higher exposure rates and lower vaccination numbers.

Statewide, the COVID-19 death rate for Latinos is 11 times higher than other groups.

Doctors remind people the vaccine is safe.

“The new COVID-19 booster is updated to strengthen our protection against the original coronavirus, while also targeting the most infectious strains that we have been seeing these past months,” said Dr. Ilan Shapiro. 

In Fresno County, only 67 percent of the population has received at least one dose. Of that number, half of them are Latino.

Organizations like Cultiva La Salud constantly outreach to this community.

“Our staff will table at locations where we know Latino immigrants, Latino community members frequent,” said executive director Genoveva Islas. 

State data shows Latinos account for 43% of California’s covid-19 related deaths while making up just under 40 percent of the state’s population.

That’s why Cultiva La Salud continues encouraging people to attend their health events.

“We’ll set up a taco truck after they get immunized, they can get tacos, we’ll do raffle prizes, we incentivize them by giving them gift cards, $25 or $50,” said Islas. 

She says people still have some doubts.

“They feel like the vaccine was developed too quickly; they’re not sure what type of reactions children are going to have to the vaccine,” Islas said. 

“I’m a physician and a father, and I urge families to get the booster before we all begin doing more things indoor this fall and winter,” said Dr. Shapiro. “When families are boosted, we can feel safer as our children are involved in school activities and we can look forward to gathering more safely for the fall and winter holidays.”

“Part of what we’re working against right now is this perception that the pandemic is over, and so that also affects this urgency to get vaccinated,” said Islas. 

Cultiva La Salud is hosting its next vaccination event in October. For details, click here.

To check COVID-19 vaccine providers near you by visiting the CDC’s website.