Manitoba to connect with interpreter service to help non-English speakers with vaccine appoinments

Manitoba is hoping a new initiative helping people book COVID-19 vaccine supersite appointments by phone in more than 100 languages will help encourage more people to get vaccinated.

Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson announced the project Wednesday and said callers can request professional interpreter services for their appointments.

“Being able to access care in your preferred language helps people better understand the information they’re being provided and makes the experience more comfortable, equitable and accessible,” said Stefanson.

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“We believe this expansion to the services we offer will encourage more Manitobans to make their appointments and get the vaccine sooner.”

The service is offered when Manitobans call the 1-844-MAN-VACC hotline, which will connect a third-party interpreter service to the call to help book the appointment.

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American Sign Language interpreters can also be requested for supersite appointments and will be provided via a tablet or computer.

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The director of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg said language barriers have been an ongoing issue when it comes to vaccination.

“Immigration Partnership Winnipeg’s mandate is to identify gaps and barriers on the path of integration for newcomer, immigrant and refugee communities,” said Hani Ataan Al-Ubeady.

“One of the persistent barriers to accessing the vaccine for these communities is having access to information and support in their first/preferred language.

“This will help to reduce further disparities COVID-19 has on newcomer, immigrant and refugee communities.”

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April 24-30 is National Immunization Awareness Week in Canada, an annual event not specifically related to the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

The minister noted the week is meant to highlight and recognize the importance of immunization.

“Manitoba offers dozens of vaccines at no charge to the public to prevent not only COVID-19, but other illness such as influenza, measles, mumps, chicken pox and other serious illnesses,” said Stefanson.

“I encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they are eligible to prevent these diseases from spreading to others.”

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