The COVID-19 vaccine: one Latino's experience

News & Events

A photo of Andrew Mendez receiving his COVID-19 vaccination

Andrew Mendez, UNR Med student content editor, Advancement and Engagement receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the Livestock Event Center drive through vaccination clinic in April 2021. Photo courtesy of Andrew Mendez. 

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, all Americans 16-years or older are now eligible to get vaccinated. However, as COVID-19 vaccines roll out, many marginalized communities, nationally, are falling behind on receiving the vaccine. Nevada's Latino community is no exception.  

As a Latino, I have experienced the inequities my community faces with access to health care and proper information. I want to let them - and members of other marginalized populations - know it is extremely important and necessary to get vaccinated, and I hope my story can help inform and encourage them to get vaccinated. 

I am not fond of vaccines or needles, let alone when they are going into my body. However, with how the past year has been I found it imperative to get vaccinated. 

The majority of my 2020 was spent reporting out in the community at BLM protests, covering the 2020 Presidential Election and conducting in person interviews when needed. I was exposing myself constantly to contracting COVID-19, and it was, frankly scary. I am a high-risk individual, as I deal with chronic asthma.  

In an effort to manage my mental health, which became crippling as the pandemic progressed, I would only leave home if I had to for work or to get a few groceries. The fear of contracting COVID-19 paralyzed me at points. I was always thinking: if I get COVID, there goes my future. There goes my life.  Sadly, I did contract the virus. My mom works at a Las Vegas casino, so she is constantly interacting with the general public. When I went home for winter break, she tested positive, and I soon followed suit. It wasn't a pleasant experience as I delt with a cough, body aches, chills and losing my sense of smell. Thankfully, I did not get severe symptoms, but the thought of "what if" always lingered in the back of my mind. 

When I found out I was eligible to receive the vaccine earlier this month, I broke down crying. It felt surreal, but also was the one glimpse of hope I had experienced in a while. I made my appointment almost immediately and made my way to the Reno Livestock Events Center the day of my appointment.  

I was nervous, scared, happy and hopeful. All my exposure experiences raced through my mind, as if through a dark tunnel, and I was looking forward to it ending. 

Everyone staffing the vaccination location was attentive, kind and excited for those of us getting our vaccines. They answered every question I had and made sure I was comfortable before receiving my vaccine. 
The process is extremely easy: 

  • Make an appointment online
  • Fill out the forms provided .
  • Bring the paperwork, your health insurance card and your ID to your appointment.
  • Get vaccinated (at some sites, through your car window!).
  • Wait 15-30 minutes.
  • Go home!
  • You'll repeat the process for your second dose, and also bring the vaccine card you receive after your first dose.

The moment the needle entered my arm, I felt a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. And finally, I could confidently say, "The end of the pandemic is near." 

The feeling of knowing I am protecting myself is one I want everyone to experience. It is reviving and vibrant. Despite my experiences moving me to get the vaccine, I also felt it was my civic duty to get vaccinated. It was me ensuring I was making an impact in ending the pandemic for all.  

The Washoe County Health District has vaccinated over 122,000 individuals as of Friday, April 23, and I am proud to be counted among them. 

I urge everyone, especially those in the Latino community, to get the vaccine. Do it for yourself and for your family. Do it to make sure they are safe. Do it to make sure you're safe. Hazlo para asegurarse de que su comunidad sea más saludable. 

If you or a Spanish speaker in your life is experiencing vaccine hesitancy, Immunize Nevada has created a series of vaccine-related videos, with several translated into Spanish. 

Media Contacts

Julie Ardito, APR
Senior Director, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 784-6006

Tessa Bowen, MPA
Communications Manager, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 682-9254

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Nevada's first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Established in 1969, UNR Med is improving the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Released: Tuesday April 27, 2021 @ 10:00 AM