GOODING, Idaho — The general population have had their struggles and have been affect with COVID. Yet, for someone who relies on reading lips or using American Sign Language it has made trying to find out even just general information very difficult.
“I would say that the general population has definitely felt the impact of Coronavirus and has felt that struggle," said Steven Snow, the Executive Director for Idaho Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. "I would say that it’s been three to four times worse for deaf people.
Gathering information and daily communication has not been the only difficulty this population has been facing.
Snow said, “Many deaf and hard of hearing individuals experience struggles in accessing their healthcare. So because they have had difficulties with the healthcare system in the past. That creates some resistance to trust those health systems to give them the vaccine.”
To help with these issues, The Idaho Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CDHH) is teaming up with several organizations to bring a COVID-19 vaccination clinic directly to the Magic Valley. The organizations include the Idaho Association of the Deaf, Saint Alphonsus, the South Central Public Health District, and the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind.
“It’s set up so that it can be a friendly environment for deaf and hard of hearing people to feel welcome and to feel that they can trust getting the vaccine there. That is the purpose, to create equal access for the community,” said Snow
The health district is supplying the vaccine doses, Saint Alphonsus is providing the staff to administer shots and coordinating efforts to find interpreters, and CDHH is helping spread the word.
“Those obstacles can be extremely difficult to overcome so working with community partners who are just as eager as we are to help these residents is such a pleasure and so wonderful, so we are really excited about this,” said Brianna Bodily, the spokesperson for the Health District.
Trying to get information out to the public has been the health district's goal since the beginning of the pandemic and they hope to continue doing so.
“If there is an individual out there who knows of some sort of a communication gap that we have, or a group of people who aren’t getting our message or don’t know how to sign up for the vaccine or for some reason can’t access the vaccine. Please let us know so that we can work with you and help reach out to that population,” said Bodily.
The clinic is set to occur on Thursday, April 29 from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm at the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind campus in Gooding. Since doses are limited, people are encouraged to reach out to the Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in advance.
“Since we have a specific number of vaccines available, it would be best to register in advanced and they can sign up by contacting our office here at the council and we can help them register,” said Snow.
To contact the Council's office, call 208-334-0879.