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Even in the toughest situations, it is possible to find humor. My best advice? Find what connects you.

When I tell people I work for Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and my job is to talk to people about COVID-19 vaccine, I often get asked if I get into arguments.

It’s no secret COVID-19 vaccine can be a hot topic, but I am happy to report I have never met anyone who wants to argue or fight. Most people just want to talk about their concerns.

My focus area is Pierce County residents who speak Spanish.

Pierce County’s Latinx and Hispanic populations have the lowest vaccination rates in the county. Only 42% of Pierce County’s Hispanic population have received 1 or more doses of vaccine. This number should alarm anyone who wants to see this pandemic end.

Vaccine disinformation is one of the problems—which is why the Health Department’s community outreach team works hard to undo wrong or harmful information moving through social media.

Our message is consistent: “COVID-19 vaccine is safe, free and you don’t need insurance or ID.” We translate this message into Spanish and share it on radio, TV, podcasts, digital billboards, and signs.

At Casual and Connected Clinics held at farmers’ markets, food pantries, and activity centers across the county, people get a chance to ask questions. We also partner with trusted messengers and leaders in the community.

On Dec. 7, we will host a Zoom Spanish Lunch and Learn with Dr. Enrique Leon. Dr. Leon practices family medicine and can answer parents’ and caregivers’ questions about getting their child vaccinated. I encourage parents and caregivers who speak Spanish to attend.

Community engagement helps us find things we have in common.

We all want our children and families to be healthy. We all want to avoid COVID-19, and we are all getting tired of the pandemic.

As a working mother myself, I have a lot in common with other working parents who juggle jobs, childcare, housework, school, activities, and caregiving.

My mom suffered a stroke about 7 months ago. That is when I decided it was time to get vaccinated— for her and my kids. She needed me to care for her while she was recuperating from her stroke.

But even in the toughest situations, it is possible to find humor. When I talk to people, families or business owners, we usually share a laugh about something.

For example, during one of my very first Casual and Connected clinics, I saw a family of 6, both parents, their teen son and 3 little kids. When I asked the parents if they had any more questions, the mother stared at me with a serious face and asked, “So when do we turn into zombies?”

We all sat together laughing. It was a great way to break the anxiety this family was feeling about vaccine.

My job is rewarding because it gives me the opportunity to help those in the community who are more vulnerable to this disease. Many people in the Hispanic population are frontline workers, and I encounter so many people who don’t know how the health department can help them.

Making a difference in someone’s life is what makes my job and my life more meaningful.

If you’re talking to someone who may not agree with getting vaccinated, do your best to listen and empathize. Telling people they are wrong shuts down the conversation and could shame them.

My best advice? Find what connects you. Find something you have in common. And if someone brings up zombies, remember to laugh.

Find your dose.

If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, you can find your dose at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture.

Everyone 5 and older is eligible. If you need a ride to an appointment or can’t easily leave your home, we can help! Call us at (253) 649-1412, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

And you can do even more to help stop the spread. 

Woman knocks on door to talk about COVID-19 vaccine.