• August 26, 2021
More than 20 people with hairing impairments received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination at the Manawatū Deaf Society. Photo: supplied
Vaccine clinics tailored to meet the access needs of the Deaf community will be open in Auckland tomorrow and Saturday.
Deaf Aotearoa is running the Deaf-only clinics in conjunction with district health boards around the country to help people with hearing impairments receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
Becky Hadfield, organisation development manager at Deaf Aotearoa, says it is imperative Deaf people have this opportunity.
“If we were unable able to work in partnership with district health boards, Deaf people would not be getting the information they need about why they need to become vaccinated, what the consequences are if they do not get vaccinated, and where they go in order to receive a vaccination.”
While some members of the Deaf community have been going to their GP or local vaccination centre, the Deaf-only clinics will be accessible to those who do not have the confidence or ability to go to a vaccination centre where the use of hearing and voice is essential.
“If you are a Deaf person, it doesn’t mean this is your only opportunity. We are trying to make the process more accessible for more of the Deaf community,” says Mrs Hadfield.
Deaf-only clinics are being held in Deaf-community clubs or the non-for-profit’s own offices.
"From the start of the process, the Deaf community are coming to a venue that is familiar to them and that feels safe, one which is fully accessible, creating an environment in which people feel confident to ask questions.”
The venues will have interpreters present to communicate information at every stage of the vaccination process.
“All of the information that would be made available at any other vaccination centre is able to made available through New Zealand Sign Language,” says Mrs Hadfield.
Members of the Deaf community are entitled to have a vaccination under Group Three of the vaccination schedule.
Deaf-only clinics run in Dunedin and Wellington since the roll-out of Group 3 vaccines have had reports that the Deaf community has found the process to be smooth and easy to understand.
“The community has felt respected as they have had equal access to essential primary health care, says Mrs Hadfield.
Palmerston North held its first Deaf-only clinic at the Manawatū Deaf Society on August 12. It was attended by 20 people who use New Zealand Sign Language as their preferred language
Annette Hansen, Deaf Aotearoa facilitator for the Palmerston North clinic, believes the clinic encouraged 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.”
Deaf-only clinics are scheduled to run in South Auckland tomorrow, Friday, and at Avondale on Saturday.
Mrs Hadfield says the clinics have been preparing to go ahead under a Level-3 or Level 4-scenario.
“One element we are considering is wearing of masks under Level 4. Obviously, you have to wear a mask but this can hinder the communication for Deaf people.”
“We are looking at whether health providers can wear clear shields or masks with clear windows. These are the kind of considerations we didn’t have to think about prior to Level 4 but now we are.”
You can find more information about upcoming Deaf-only clinics and other resources relating to COVID-19 in New Zealand Sign Language on Deaf Aotearoa’s website.