Vaccine Central

Hoosiers on Saturday can register for COVID-19 vaccinations in 9 languages

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A multilingual hotline event Saturday was designed to get Hoosiers registered for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The city-county government, which includes the Marion County Public Health Department, partnered with organizations to create a hotline that will offer help to Hoosiers in nine languages: Arabic, Burmese, English, French, Hakha Chin, Mandarin, Spanish, Swahili and Yoruba.

About 65 bilingual volunteers will help set up coronavirus vaccination appointments for Hoosiers who call the health department at 317-327-2100 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

André Zhang Sonera, economic and community development project manager for Mayor Joe Hogsett, on Wednesday cited a lack of resources on COVID-19 vaccinations in multiple languages. “These individuals don’t have access to media and news in their native language. Therefore, the information that they’re getting from their Facebook or their WhatsApp, from everything else, might not be factual. We want to make sure that they have access to somebody who is trustworthy,” Sonera said. “There’s still a gap. There’s still a need, and we want to make sure to remind everybody that this is a vaccine that’s safe, that’s free and is available to anybody regardless of their status residency and regardless of the language that they speak.”

Bukola Akinbola, a Hoosier in the Yoruba community, said, “We do not have some medium or media that communicates in our local language, so whatever is out there is what we’re all dependent on.”

In March, the city-county government including the local health department organized a hotline for Spanish-speaking Hoosiers; more than 800 people registered.

Sonera said, “This time, we want to make sure to break that gap and do it in multilingual services so we are able to provide it those residents across Indiana.”

The mayor said in a videoconference, “With these and other programs ongoing we hope to reach 50% of Marion County residents being vaccinated by July 4.”

On Wednesday, 42.6% of Marion County residents 12 and older were fully vaccinated, according to the Indiana State Department of Health’s vaccine dashboard. Statewide, that percentage is 43.5%.

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