OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - COVID-19 outbreaks hit Owensboro’s Burmese population hard last spring. Health officials are now taking steps to educate and vaccinate non-English speaking communities so they don’t have to face another outbreak.
“We’re making sure that everybody in our community has an opportunity to get vaccinated,” said Clay Horton, the Director of GRDHD.
The Green River District Health Department doesn’t want language barriers to be the reason why someone doesn’t get vaccinated.
“Some people that don’t speak English don’t get their information the same way as the rest of us do. We’re trying to make sure that we have messages that are targeted to that community so that they can have that information as well,” explained Horton.
That’s why the health department and the International Center of Owensboro teamed up. The International Center is a refugee resettlement agency.
“Our clients face a lot of extra challenges. The language barrier, the cultural barrier, the transportation barrier,” said Anna Allen, the Site Director at the International Center of Owensboro.
With combined efforts, they are providing non-English speaking communities with translated educational materials about the COVID-19 vaccine. They’re also holding vaccine clinics for these communities.
“Last March and April, we had large outbreaks within our non-English speaking communities, and that wasn’t just a phenomenon here locally, we saw that all across the country,” said Horton.
“Half of the population here got affected by COVID because most of them work in factories, so if someone gets it, they spread it to others,” said Phen.
Annie Phen is a Burmese refugee. She was hesitant at first to get vaccinated.
“But a little bit later, I decided if I get a vaccine, it’s a really good opportunity for me so I could travel without any problems,” said Phen.
She now advocates for her community not having another outbreak.
“I just really want to encourage my community, take the time and think about it,” said Phen.
The International Center says if you missed a vaccine clinic, to give them a call.