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How STL Juntos Helped Latinos Lead Missouri In Vaccinations

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STL Juntos
STL Juntos is a volunteer-based organization started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to connect local Spanish speakers to COVID-19 resources.

In Missouri, the Latino community is leading in vaccination rates — an anomaly from national statistics. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, 56% of the state’s Hispanic or Latino population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. That’s higher than the percentage rate for non-Hispanic or Latino Missourians — which currently sits at 44%.

How STL Juntos Helped Latinos Lead Missouri In Vaccinations

“Unlike what many people thought, that the Latinos were not ready — they were absolutely ready,” said Lourdes Trevino Bailon.

That success is likely in part due to the efforts of STL Juntos, a volunteer-based organization Bailon helped start in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She co-founded STL Juntos with Gabriela Ramirez-Arellano, executive director and director of entrepreneurship of the Center for Emerging Technologies at the Cortex Innovation Community.

STL Juntos helps connect local Spanish speakers with both resources to navigate the pandemic and health professionals. Among those professionals is Julia López, an instructor in medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Washington University School of Medicine.

López and her Spanish-speaking colleagues across various disciplines were able to provide community members with myth-busting information in a casual way.

“We [decided] we’re gonna do these like charlas,” López said, using the Spanish word for talks or chats. “So trying to keep it very casual … like, come bring your coffee and come to these Zoom hangouts on Monday mornings.

“We started off slow, but then realized that people were really like, engaging, commenting and doing a lot of follow-ups.”

López and Trevino Bailon joined host Sarah Fenske on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air to talk about how the group continues to serve the region’s Hispanic community. They also touched on the value of having medical professionals who not only communicate in a patient’s primary language, but also understand their cultural background.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Lara is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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