Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals Can Access Interpreters During Vaccination at the Six Megasites

(TRENTON) – The Murphy Administration announced that deaf and hard of hearing individuals are able to ask for an American Sign Language interpreter when receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at the state’s six vaccine megasites to assist with communication access during the vaccination process.

In a partnership with the state Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services’ Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is providing American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at each megasite. Interpreters are available in-person or remotely to individuals who ask for an ASL interpreter.

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“We want to make sure all New Jerseyans feel as comfortable as possible with the vaccination process,” Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “Our Division of Deaf and Hard of Hearing is committed to helping individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing have adequate communication access when getting a vaccine at the state-run megasites. I encourage anyone who needs this assistance to ask for it. It’s there to help and make this process as easy as can be for all New Jerseyans.”

“During any emergency, it is important that people know what is happening, when it will happen, and what steps they are expected to take,” Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police said. “Giving deaf and hard of hearing individuals accurate and critical information during the vaccination process enables us to build a high level of trust and satisfaction within the communities these megasites serve.”

“All of our megasites are ADA accessible and have special accommodations available to help enhance the comfort of individuals during their visit," New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. "Communicating health information clearly and accurately is critical in understanding the vaccination process.”

Individuals needing ASL interpretation can ask for it at the registration desk inside each megasite. Megasite staff will either connect individuals with an in-person interpreter or an interpreter available remotely using a computer tablet to connect with an interpreter.

“We are pleased to be able provide ASL communication access for deaf and hard of hearing New Jerseyans as they get vaccinated for COVID-19,” Human Services Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira said. “We know how critical it is for people to get accurate and helpful information about the vaccine process, pre-vaccine questions and information about side effects and care post-vaccine. This effort will ensure that deaf and hard of hearing individuals get this information in their primary language.”

Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Executive Director Elizabeth Hill said people who are deaf or hard of hearing are much more likely to reach out for any kind of health care if there is someone there who can help them understand what is being said and done.

“Interpreters can ease the concern and uncertainty people often feel in medical settings when they are not able to fully communicate in ASL,” Director Hill said. “We want to do everything we can to serve people who are deaf or hard of hearing and make them comfortable and knowledgeable.”

To make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, visit covid19.nj.gov/vaccine or call 855-568-0545.

In addition to providing ASL interpretation at all the state-run megasites, Human Services has provided training to vaccination coordinators on disability accommodation measures, including pre-vaccination communication card checklists in English and Spanish, speech-to-text apps and captioning, among others.