Latino Community in Central Texas: El Buen Samaritano

Throughout the pandemic, rates of COVID-19 infection in the Eastern Crescent area of Austin, Texas have exceeded those in the rest of the Austin area by more than 100 cases per 100,000 members of the population. The community organization El Buen Samaritano has led a successful vaccine outreach campaign in the Eastern Crescent area to address disparities in COVID-19 infection rates. 

When COVID-19 vaccines first became available, Eastern Crescent had had lower reported vaccination rates than the rest of the Austin area. In May 2021 – when nearly 57% of all Austin area residents had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – only 44% of residents in the Eastern Crescent had received a vaccine dose. Access, more than attitudes, was a key driving force in the vaccination disparities in the Austin area. There are 26% fewer vaccine providers in the Eastern Crescent than in the rest of the Austin area despite similar population sizes. In fact, 13 of the Eastern Crescent’s 40 ZIP codes do not have a single COVID-19 vaccine provider.

To address disparities in COVID-19 vaccine access, El Buen Samaritano (El Buen), an outreach ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas serving the Latino community of Central Texas, has specifically focused its vaccination clinics and outreach efforts on the Eastern Crescent area.

Vaccine clinics organized by El Buen have generated significant demand, with wait times for drive-through events exceeding 90 minutes. To maintain client satisfaction during the wait time, organizers tied in themed events, such as celebrations for Día de los Muertos and Thanksgiving.

The results of this tailored outreach have improved vaccination rates. As of January 2022, more than 75% of the Eastern Crescent’s residents had received at least one vaccine dose compared to only 44% in May 2021 and comparable to the 75% one-dose vaccination rate in Texas at that same time.

Community members attending El Buen's community vaccine outreach events

El Buen continues to refine its approach to reach the residents of the Eastern Crescent who remain unvaccinated, as well as to provide booster doses to those who have been vaccinated. Outreach campaigns for vaccination clinics are integrated into the organization’s other activities and focus on Spanish-language, culturally relevant communication. By conducting its vaccine clinics at a time and location that is convenient for its clients, El Buen strengthens its position as a trusted community partner to engage individuals and increase vaccine uptake.

Read more about the work of El Buen Samaritano to reduce disparities in COVID-19 immunization rates on the Partnering for Vaccine Equity "Stories from the Field" page.

Federal funding for this project is supported through cooperative agreement 1 NH23IP922652-01-00 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) totaling $25,660,048 with 100 percent funding from CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government