Chinese migrants facing language barriers struggle to book and get Covid-19 vaccination.
Community leaders and an organization working with the Chinese community say there needs to be more proactive dissemination of information through ethnic platforms, and dedicated group vaccination events could help.
Kelly Feng, director of the supporting organization Asian Family Services (AFS), acknowledged the government’s efforts to translate vaccine information into other languages, but said there was a need to go beyond the Ministry of Health website.
“It’s always on an English [language] website and are not accessible to ethnic communities, ”she said.
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“No non-English speaker will go to an English website to get translated information.”
Chinese Women’s Association founder Stella Li said that for about two weeks, she received about a dozen calls from Chinese Kiwis every day asking for the location of the drive-thru vaccination centers.
The government’s communication with ethnic communities about the vaccine rollout was “not good enough,” she said.
Howick Ward Councilor and Manukau District Health Council member Paul Young said he had been contacted by several hundred people – mostly middle-aged and elderly Chinese kiwis – to ask him questions about the vaccine and how to get vaccinated from the start of the deployment.
Young Asians Said had the highest vaccination rates in the country, but it took a continuous push for information to reach every corner of the community.
Grouping all Asians into one category also failed to capture the differences in vaccination rates between different Asian ethnic groups, he said.
De Li Yu and Yang Lin Li, who both work in construction in Huntly, said they were unsure how to book their vaccinations.
When they arrived at a vaccination clinic in Hamilton, they were unable to contact the nurses and had to call Thing For the translation.
“The process can be easy for the locals, but for us every sentence is an obstacle,” Li said.
AFS wants to organize a group vaccination event for the Chinese community, delivered in their language. It is currently in discussion with the Ministry of Health.
Feng said it would be particularly beneficial for people who are hard to reach, such as those over the length of stay and migrant workers who do not speak English.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said Thing The establishment of targeted vaccination centers for Pacific communities has seen the vaccination rate drop from 33.7% before the lockdown to 53.8% currently.
Astrid Koornneef, head of the Covid-19 vaccination operations group, said the health ministry was working with district health boards and the Ministry of Ethnic Communities to ensure that the translated information reached communities.
Immunization promotion materials have been translated into 37 languages and distributed by DHBs, health providers, community groups and employers of migrant labor.
DHBs and health providers were also receiving support to help immunize migrant workers through opportunities such as mobile clinics, walk-in vaccinations and pop-up centers, she said.
The ministry said it was working with DHBs to see what additional assistance could be provided, which could include women-only immunization days and the presence of members of the ethnic community to help with translation.
He said a group vaccination event organized by the Waitematā DHB for more than 100 members of the Filipino community took place on September 1, with further sessions planned in Auckland for the Sikh, Vietnamese and pan-ethnic communities.
He said he also plans to provide translation services over the phone at vaccination sites.