Since February 2021, with the help of bilingual volunteers like Sue Park and Sarah Jho, KYCC’s vaccination program has provided in-language support and public health education in Spanish, Korean, and English to over 1,000 Koreatown community members. The Los Angeles County has subcontracted with 16 agencies across Los Angeles, to work with high-need populations that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. KYCC’s vaccination program aims to assist eligible community members with vaccine appointments and provide additional education around COVID-19.
With nearly 57% of the Los Angeles County residents being non-English speakers, in-language support is more important than ever.
“For senior monolingual Korean speakers with limited technological capabilities, it is almost impossible for them to register for a vaccine appointment on their own. Even if they have a cellphone, it is very difficult for them,” says KYCC director of external affairs Steve Kang.
KYCC’s vaccination program has collaborated with Council District 10, Anderson-Munger YMCA, Clínica Romero, Woori Pharmacy, and other community organizations to increase vaccine accessibility for Koreatown residents.
“I helped my dad, a senior with COPD or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, register online for his vaccine appointment. I remember desperately checking for appointments multiple times throughout the day. It was telling how technologically savvy you had to be,” Sarah recalls. “At CVS, I heard two non-English speaking seniors arguing with the pharmacy staff about their appointment. It turned out they hadn’t navigated the website correctly, and didn’t register for an appointment like they had thought. I went over to translate in Korean. I talked to the staff, and they told me that they struggled to support the local senior and immigrant community—and that was the day I saw this was not an isolated incident.”
Sue was also shocked on her first day as a volunteer for KYCC. She assisted over one hundred seniors at KYCC’s mobile vaccination clinic in Seoul International Park in Koreatown on March 20, 2021. “I could tell on the faces of the elderly immigrant folks, my services really did make an impact. When I would help someone by translating something in Korean, I would see a face of relief. Just being able to communicate their frustrations and confusion about the whole pandemic made a difference. I instantly saw the huge need for language services and registration support for vaccines. That’s what made me want to continue to stay involved.”
As 2021 comes to a close, Sue and Sarah are more committed than ever to educate community members about the safety of COVID-19 vaccinations and bring more vaccine accessibility to monolingual seniors. “In the coming months, I’m hoping to support the upcoming booster shots. during the first wave [of vaccinations], there was a lot of confusion with navigating a whole new system. I’m hopeful that this program can play a role in helping make sure that it’s a smoother time this time around.“
For more information about our vaccination program, please contact Sarah Jho at email@example.com.