Orange County Works to Make Vaccination Process More Accessible and Diverse

February 5, 2021 Updated: February 8, 2021

Orange County health officials say they’re working to make the vaccination process easier for region’s disabled and minority communities.

The Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) said Feb. 4 that it was adding an Americans with Disabilities Act lane at Soka University to make the inoculation process easier for disabled residents.

Rather than standing in line, those with appointments and disability vehicle placards or license plates can instead wait in a car queue at the Aliso Viejo super point of distribution (POD).

Meantime, Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett told The Epoch Times during an interview that the county is working to ensure everyone can get the vaccine, including underprivileged populations.

“We’re going to ensure that every person, every population has access to the vaccines,” Bartlett said. “We’re preparing a lot of materials that are multilingual, our hotline is now multilingual, we have an educational and outreach campaign that we’re working on that will specifically target the underserved populations and certain populations that may be reticent to get a vaccination.”

She continued, “We’re going to do everything we can to have specific outreach and deep dives into those communities. They are critical frontline workers, food service workers, but also communities where there may be language barriers, or they just for whatever reason may be concerned or reticent about getting a vaccination.”

Addressing Language Barriers

As part of Orange County’s new language access policy, it hired journalist Martin Plascencia to lead its Spanish-language communications and outreach efforts.

“The pandemic has only deepened language access issues,” Chairman Andrew Do said in a Feb. 4 press release announcing the hire. “Now more than ever, we must reach every community and neighborhood in Orange County.”

About 45 percent of Orange County adults speak a language other than English at home, according to the 2019-2020 Orange County Community Indicators Report, and about 25 percent of the population are native Spanish speakers.

Yet, according to HCA health data, the local Hispanic diaspora accounts for 11 percent of Orange County’s vaccinated population.

Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee said he’s hopeful the newly-launched communication efforts help bridge the language barrier.

“Martin Plascencia is bringing a wealth of knowledge and working experience in Spanish media to the County of Orange,” Chafee said in a press release. “His insights into the Latino communities and ability to act as a trusted messenger are vital assets to us.”

As well, the county’s Othena scheduling app is now available in Spanish. Other languages are expected to be added.

The county is also working on setting up mobile POD vaccination sites in communities that will allow the elderly to receive vaccines if they are unable to drive to the super POD sites.

Follow Drew on Twitter: @DrewVanVoorhis