Deaf and Hard of Hearing Face Obstacles Getting Vaccinated

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Face Obstacles Getting Vaccinated

Like many deaf people, Sara Novic found frustration when she arrived to get her Covid-19 vaccination.

“Though thousands of people filtered through this site each day, there was no sign language interpreter anywhere to be found,” she wrote for

“Verbal cues ran the entire process, and the nurses were visibly uneasy when they had to stray from the standard process for completing my patient screening (they showed me the list of questions on the computer and I gave them a thumbs up or down). Later on, I missed my turn to schedule the appointment for my second dose because I had not responded to someone calling my name.”

This wasn’t a big surprise for Novic. “As a Deaf person, even before the pandemic, I was used to facing challenges while navigating medical settings — the US health care system is notoriously inaccessible, and it can be difficult to procure a qualified sign language interpreter, especially on short notice,” she wrote. “I often end up relying on lipreading, a tenuous method at best, but the need for masks has since virtually eliminated that option.”

Eventually it worked out for her. “Ultimately, due to the courteousness of those working at the site (and my own privileges — English fluency and the computer skills that allowed me to register online in the first place) I was able to get my first shot and register for my second. But this is not the case for many deaf and hard-of-hearing people.”

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