Pop up clinic focuses on COVID-19 vaccines for deaf and blind community

SEATTLE — Swedish Hospital rolled out its latest pop up vaccination site at Seattle University with a focus here on serving members of the deaf, blind and deaf-blind community.

“You might notice that I communicate thru tactile sign language, through touch. And that can be impossible with social distancing the way we’ve going for the last year,” Angela Theriault said.

Theriault is executive director for the Deaf-Blind Service Center. Speaking through an interpreter, she explained how the community is feeling a lot more isolated and why the vaccines are critical.

“It’s a higher risk when we do have to communicate and touch one another to communicate. So we have a higher risk of contracting COVID and because we have to continue to communicate through touch in the deaf-blind community,” Theriault added.

Nwando Anyaoku, Chief Healthy Equity Officer at Swedish Hospital, says mobile pop up site like these focus on equity.

“Really this allows you to do targeted outreach so the most high risk population for whom the regular systems are more difficult to navigate,” Anyaoku Said.

American Sign Language interpreters and support service providers helped guide people through the process.

Arielle Bello from the Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center says those resources are critical.

“They use those kinds of services to access this kind of service which is we decided to provide this to the community so that people who are currently stuck in their homes can access vaccines and community have an opportunity to get,” Bello said.