Hello! I work for CCDHB, Capital and Coast DHB here at Wellington. Our team, the disability team, has been working on rolling out the COVID vaccination program to the Disability community, with me focused specifically on the Deaf community.
The way I went about this work was to reach out to Wellington Deaf club and work closely with them to get information about COVID and the vaccination to their members. I attended Deaf club evening events and activities as well as morning tea gatherings where I delivered a presentation. I brought with me a nurse vaccinator which was great as it meant that people had an opportunity to ask her questions directly.
I also spent time in the Deaf Aotearoa office in Lower Hutt so that staff and service users could book their appointments and talk to me or ask questions. The aim of these interactions was to ensure that Deaf people were fully informed and knew what to expect at their vaccination.
Next, I worked with vaccination centres in a range of locations to make sure they were correctly prepared and set-up. We did things like making sure that their space would be easy to navigate for deaf people; that there was clear NZSL signage on the walls; that staff knew what to do; and that they knew how to engage and work with interpreters. In this way we were able to create Deaf- friendly spaces appropriate for Deaf culture and Deaf patients.
As a result of our work preparing and promoting Deaf vaccination events to the Deaf community, we had about 100 Deaf people attend these clinics to receive their vaccination. The reason these events were so successful and so many people attended was because they felt well-informed and knew exactly what to expect on the day.
Reflecting on this work, I believe that the key to our success was community engagement. By working with the Deaf club and Deaf organisations we were able to utilise their networks to reach deep into the Deaf community. As a result, many hard-to-reach grass-roots community members participated in our program, demonstrating just how critical community engagement was to the success of our work.