Breakthrough in reaching the Omaha refugee community with the COVID-19 vaccine

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – A massive effort to attract members of the Omaha refugee community to the COVID-19 vaccine is paying off.

“Our goal is to break down barriers for people who have wanted to get vaccinated and may not be able to navigate the online system or getting a vaccine when nobody speaks your language is really scary,” said Hannah Wyble, Executive Director . Restoring Dignity, a nonprofit partnership with the Douglas County Health Department.

Interpreters in four different languages ​​were on site on Sunday at the East African Development Association in Nebraska, where Methodist Health’s mobile team set up a vaccination clinic. The interpreters help sign people up and work to dispel myths and misinformation.

“I had reservations,” said Abdi Kadir. “We were all hesitant.” But that hesitation is quickly subsiding, at least within the Somali community.

“Now that we had an outreach program, trained people, translated for their language, and got more information about the vaccine, people are now accepting it,” said Mohamed Jimale, executive director of the East African Development Association of Nebraska. The turning point came last Month when they called in a doctor to answer community questions.

“A doctor came here,” said Kadir. “And he was here with us for more than two hours and explained everything to us.”

And those who get the shot encourage others to do the same. “It is important because it is a health problem, because something and many sisters and brothers have already passed away and we are worried too,” said Mohamed Dore.

Meanwhile, local people told 6 News they had to continue fighting misinformation. “There’s a lot going on on social media, there are even some pastors telling their churches not to get vaccinated, and that’s a big barrier,” said Wyble.

Sunday’s mobile clinic is just one of a handful of vaccination programs being implemented in Omaha’s refugee communities, including churches and apartment complexes.

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