Kent Co. erases barriers, hosts vaccine clinic for deaf community

COVID-19 Vaccine

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Kent County’s vaccination effort is continuing to reach out to communities that are more vulnerable, making sure that no one is left behind.

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services partnered with the Kent County Health Department to hold a special clinic. Workers said the clinic, designed for the deaf, blind and hard of hearing, erases barriers and helps them navigate a medical setting.

“We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to know what’s available to them,” said Erica Chapin, community and partnerships manager for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.

Organizers said 70 disabled residents got their first dose Monday. Seventeen of them were DHHS clients.

“The interpreter is there and ready for them,” Chapin said. “That’s just a welcoming environment; that’s the way it should be for everyone.”

The environment benefited couples like Reynold and Florence Schmitt. Both talked with DHHS workers as they waited 15 minutes to ensure their bodies responded positively to their COVID-19 vaccine. Workers said, through a translator, it’s a safe space they are happy to create.

“This is my community, so I want to be involved in this event for my community, let each one know that we are here for them, that our community is not being marginalized anymore, but we are being included,” signed Rowan O’Dougherty, board president at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.

Moving forward, DHHS workers said they want the clinic to represent inclusion and accessibility as the world continues fighting the pandemic.

“It would be nice if they would be an example for other clinics to follow suit, so that we can develop that accommodation and accessibility for all,” said Nancy Piersma, community education coordinator for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.

The second-dose vaccine clinic for this community will be held June 3 at the Kentwood location of the Kent County Health Department at 4700 Kalamazoo Avenue NE.

Anyone who needs help scheduling their COVID-19 vaccine appointment may reach out to DHHS online.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

More COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

Top Stories On WOODTV.com

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links