IRC works toward providing COVID vaccine information to refugee communities

Posted at 7:33 AM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 09:50:11-05

BOISE, Idaho — Thousands of individuals will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine as the state moves into its next priority group on February 1, and one local organization is working to clear any misinformation about the vaccine to the refugee community.

International Rescue Committee in Boise says through a collaborative community effort, they can share information about the vaccine.

"We are continuing our conversations about the vaccine, spreading some of those testimonials, sharing basic information about the vaccine, making sure people have that basic understanding, so they are ready to make that decision for themselves whether they want to get the vaccine," Georgette Siqueiros, Community Engagement Coordinator at IRC Boise, said.

Siqueiros said they created videos to provide COVID-19 information on local public health orders in different languages with some refugee community members.

"People from the community are so willing to help get those orders translated, including Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Spanish, Russian. I think we've done up to seven different languages," Siqueiros said.

As the vaccine rolls out, members from the refugee community who work in the hospitals have stepped up to give a testimony about getting the vaccine in their native language.

"A lot of those people willing to share their experience of getting the vaccine is so important right now there's a lot of different false information of what might happen if you do get the vaccine," Siqueiros said.

During a media briefing Tuesday, state health officials said, besides speeding up the vaccination process, their goal is to ensure equity by fairly distributing the vaccines to public health districts.

"We are very mindful that those local health districts, sort of transfers to them to make sure their communities are fairly getting access to the vaccine," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn.

Hahn said they would see what other efforts need to be made to help the refugee communities.

"We do have a very good relationship with the refugee health providers. I got to reach out to them back and make sure that we are doing well in that community," Hahn said.

IRC said Miss Africa Idaho, a scholarship program, plans to launch a "Most Fashionable Mask" competition sometime next week to encourage people to wear masks.