(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indy will hold a COVID vaccine hotline Saturday for people who don’t speak English.
One of every seven people in Marion County speaks a language other than English at home. The health department fielded a thousand calls to a Spanish-language hotline in March, and got 800 of those callers signed up for their shots. But the Census Bureau says about 74,000 Marion County residents speak a language other than Spanish or English at home.
The health department has gathered volunteers who speak nine of Indy’s most common foreign languages. Spanish is most common, but languages of Myanmar, China and sub-Saharan Africa cover 24,000 people.
Saturday’s eight-hour hotline opens at 9 a.m., and will offer vaccine information in Burmese, Hakhan Chin, Mandarin, Swahili and Yoruba. There will also be speakers of Spanish, French, Arabic, and Cajun Creole.
Project manager Andre Zheng Sonera says even people who have learned English, it’s more comfortable to get vaccine information in their native language. And he says the health department is pushing back against vaccine misinformation and hoaxes on social media pages targeting nonnative speakers.
Sonera expects about 300 calls to the hotline at (317) 327-2100.
Marion County health director Virginia Caine says about one in four Hispanic Marion County residents has been vaccinated, a slower pace than other ethnic groups. But Sonera says for people over 40, Latinos now have the county’s vaccination rate.