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COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Opens For Deaf Community

Deaf Aotearoa hosted the first COVID-19 vaccination clinic for deaf people in the MidCentral District on Thursday, 12 August.

More than 20 people with hairing impairments received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination at the Manawatū Deaf Society on Thursday. PHOTO: MIDCENTRAL DHB

The clinic, held from 10am - 1pm at the Manawatū Deaf Society in Palmerston North, was driven by the deaf community and saw 20 members receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Annette Hansen, Facilitator at Deaf Aotearoa, said that the clinic bridged the communications gap for the deaf community.

“A deaf-only clinic allows deaf people to access the information they need, to ask questions and to feel comfortable in a safe space, supported by New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreters.

“For me, personally, this is the only vaccination option where I can get full access to the vaccination process and information in NZSL - a feeling that has been reflected by the majority of the people in the deaf community that I have spoken to.”

Hansen believed this would encourage deaf people, who may not have otherwise sought the vaccine, to get vaccinated.

“Deaf people need confidence that if they attend a clinic they will be able to communicate with the staff there. This can only happen if NZSL interpreters are present.”

Prior to the clinic, COVID-19 and vaccination information workshops were held by Deaf Aotearoa, facilitated by the Immunisation Advisory Centre from the University of Auckland.

“This allowed deaf people to make informed decisions on a crucial health matter that not only affects them as individuals, but their whānau and the wider community.”

MidCentral DHB COVID-19 Vaccination Programme Senior Responsible Officer Debbie Davies said that the deaf clinic was part of a range of planned pop up clinics.

“We want to meet people where they are, so we have a range of bespoke clinics planned for rural and remote communities, workplaces and for other communities with specific needs.”

“The support from Deaf Aotearoa has been phenomenal and we’re excited to see people take this opportunity to protect themselves and their whānau from COVID-19.”

Visit the MidCentral DHB website for more information about our outreach clinics designed to make the vaccine accessible to communities with specific needs.

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