Dr. Juan Rivera on vaccine rollout: ‘This targeted approach is not working’

Univision’s chief medical correspondent stresses the need to focus on the underserved Latin community during COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
5:27 | 01/11/21

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Transcript for Dr. Juan Rivera on vaccine rollout: ‘This targeted approach is not working’
guest, the leading voice for the underserved hispanic community since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Juan Rivera is also the chief medical correspondent for univision television network. He is here and he is a good friend of our Dr. Ashton here. Sure is. She is joining us for some of the questions. Hey there, doc. So glad to see you. How rumi friend? I'm doing well and honored to be here with you guys. Well, we are honored as well. First, I want to start with you, by having you explain just how bad, because you are in the thick of it there in Miami, with all of your patients, obviously, in the hispanic community, how bad the covid pandemic has been for people of black and brown color, and why you think it has been that bad. There's a lot of co-morbidities in the hispanic community -- diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and we know that those are risk factors, also, for severe covid disease, we know that up to 20% of hispanics don't have access to health care, so that means no primary care doctors, no preventative, or preventative treatments for these chronic conditions, and we know that there is a language barrier. About 72% of hispanics basically speak -- they speak Spanish at home, and when you guys are looking at white house conferences, or looking at CDC data, that's not in Spanish. That needs to be translated to 60 million hispanics, right? So we represent about 18% of the population. But in terms of the burden, in terms of coronavirus, almost 25% of the cases. Also, hispanics are overrepresented in service industries, so they don't have the ability to stay home. They have to use public transportation. So there's a lot of socioeconomic determinants that I think that can explain this Dr. Rivera, there's also the issue of distrust. And that is specifically in large numbers a part of the latinx community, the black community, and an overall distrust of our health care system, and therefore, the vaccine as well. How do you overcome that distrust? There's a lot of distrust, and I think in the hispanic community, a lot of that has to do with their immigration status, distrust of physicians, public health experts, for example, and I think that as medical correspondents, and Jen has done a magnificent job at this, you have to tell people the truth. This is what we have seen with the vaccine. These are the risks and benefits of the vaccine. These are the risks and, what we have learned from covid, nothing is 100% clear, but this is our honest opinion about what you should do. And one of the things that I did was do it myself and I documented everything. When I got the first dose of the vaccine, for about three to four days, I actually even called Jen to talk to her about this, I felt really, really tired. I told people the truth. This is something that you could potentially experience. That doesn't mean you shouldn't get the vaccine. Let me tell you what happens if you get covid. Let me tell you what would be for you to go through that Russian roulette, because that's what it is, it is a Russian roulette, you can be 41, 35, and end up in the icu. You have to tell people the truth. You have to lead by example. And then hope that people will do the right thing. Juan, just quickly, from the CDC level, so much mistrust in our health care systems, and our organizations. What do you think should be their first order of priority as we look into a new administration to regain that trust in our public health system? I think that when it comes to educating the public, they need more minority voices. They need to understand that there are millions of people living in this country that don't have access to the right information. I became the translation, the translator in chief, for Dr. Fauci, and for the president, and for Dr. Birx. Not only was I explaining to my audience what I could, and what I was reading from medical journals, I also had to translate what the officials were telling the American public. I think that that is important. Realizing that these disparities exist, and trying to improve access to health care, it's going to be important. Now, from a vaccine standpoint, Jen, I think that the best thing we can do at this point in time is open up the vaccine for everyone. This targeted approach is not working. I understand the logic behind it. I think it was a good logic, they were not ready to implement this in this country, and that's why we have only vaccinated 2% of the population. We need to open it up. We need to vaccinate people, because it is very clear to me that the American people are not willing to change their social lives and sacrifice and do social distancing, at least a good percentage of them, to be able to fight this pandemic. So we need vaccination. We need it now, and in my opinion, they should open it up for everyone. Dr. Juan Rivera, thank you so much -- Up next, right here on "Gma3," getting and staying

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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