Lost in Translation: Language Barriers Hinder Vaccine Access

WebMD: Lost in Translation: Language Barriers Hinder Vaccine Access (April 23, 2021)

Lack of language access to vaccine information wasn’t necessarily the result of poor pandemic planning. In part, it was intentional. In 2020, the Trump administration removed language-access protections that had been written into the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, federal laws have protected people from discrimination based on their country of origin.

Decades later, the ACA took those protections and applied them in specific ways to health care. The law says any health care organization receiving federal funding had to include a tagline on significant documents in the top 15 languages of the state they were working in that notified people they had a right to an interpreter and free assistance in their own language. “That was stripped in August of 2020, and in December of 2020 we started rolling out a massive vaccination campaign,” said Denny Chan, an attorney and equity advocate at the California nonprofit Justice in Aging. “Some of that shot us in the foot.”

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