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Hmong Community vaccine hesitancy dropping as more get their doses

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Hmong Institute held their sixth vaccination clinic Saturday to address the specific challenges for their community related to access and hesitancy.

"That's wonderful for me, I have been waiting a long time to get the vaccine," Chong Neng Lee said.

He was one of more than 150 Hmong people getting their vaccines at the clinic Saturday.

While they have put these on in the past, organizers said that with availability opening up to everyone, it actually made it harder for this community.

"With the governor opening it up to 16 and over, we recognized that it could be really challenging for many of those who don't speak the language or aren't able to look on the internet to see that there are vaccine clinics," Peng Her, Hmong Institute CEO, said.

Neng Lee said the language barrier was his biggest issue.

"Because I have a problem with English, and sometimes when I call my own doctor but we have a hard time to communicate," he said.

That's why Dr. Yeng Her, of Madison, was there, along with Hmong nurses.

Dr. Her, known for being the first-ever Hmong-American M.D.-Ph.D., said it would be very difficult to have these clinics without them.

"The hesitancy of just not knowing how the vaccine works, that puts some people a little bit off in terms of whether they should get it or not," he said.

Since this is not the first time they've held vaccination clinics at the Hmong institute, Dr. Her says he's been able to see perceptions change over time, for the better.

"As more and more people are getting the vaccine and they see how well it has been going and word of mouth in terms of spreading talk about the side effects, I think that that eases people in terms of calling and scheduling," Dr. Her said.

The Hmong Institute will hold another clinic Tuesday.

The Hmong Medical Association says these clinics are only for Hmong people in Wisconsin who are able to return for second shots.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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