The Delta variant has presented a new challenge for the Department of Health and Human Services to close the vaccine gap among the disproportionately unvaccinated Latino population.

In efforts to reduce this vaccine disparity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention partnered Monday with WhatsApp, a texting platform used widely among the Latino community, to deliver vaccine information to Spanish speakers. The chat is called "Mi Chat Sobre Vacunas COVID."

Any WhatsApp user can send a text in Spanish to find out about vaccine sites in their area. They can use the app to arrange a free ride with Uber or Lyft to get the vaccine. Users can also get answers to frequently asked questions from the CDC.

Government health outreach during the pandemic has tested language barriers and growing misinformation in Spanish-speaking communities. Fears around immigration enforcement and worries around getting an unexpected medical bill, for example, have been some reasons efforts to vaccinate Latinos have been hindered.

The CDC reports that Latinos are twice as likely to be infected with COVID-19 than white Americans. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Black and Latino Americans "have received smaller shares of vaccinations compared to their shares of cases and compared to their shares of the total population in most states."

Overall, the COVID-19 vaccine gap between Latinos and whites has narrowed since these new vaccine campaign efforts were put in place. Experts are warning that the spread of the Delta variant can ignite a surge in new cases if more people do not get vaccinated.

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