How Remote Interpreting Improves Vaccine Access in Asian Communities

Asian Interpreting

With COVID-19 vaccinations well underway, the end of the pandemic may soon be in sight. Yet barriers to getting vaccinated still exist, especially among low income and limited English proficiency (LEP) speakers. Although healthcare organizations have worked to improve access to Spanish medical interpreters, many are falling behind when it comes to other languages. And that’s left Asian communities, with their diverse language needs, struggling to navigate the healthcare system. Fortunately, remote interpreting options can bridge this barrier, and help ensure everyone who wants the vaccine can get it.


The Diversity of Asian Communities


Before we dive into the benefits of remote interpreting, let’s take a look at Asian communities in the U.S.


According to a 2019 Census Bureau population estimate, roughly 18.9 million Asians live in the U.S., making up 5.7% of the total population. States with the largest Asian populations include: California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, Florida, Virginia, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.


However, English proficiency and income levels vary widely within groups and significantly impact their ability to access healthcare.


Overall, 30.9% of Asian Americans speak English “less than very well.” Broken out by national origin, the following groups reported the same:


  • Vietnamese – 48.2%.
  • Chinese – 42%.
  • Filipinos – 19.8%
  • Asian Indians – 17.7%


Asians are also the most economically divided group in the county. In 2016, Asians in the top 90th percentile of income distribution had 10.7 times the income of Asians in the 10th percentile. African Americans made up the second most divided group (9.8), followed by Whites (7.8) and Hispanics (7.8).


When it comes to healthcare, vulnerable Asian Americans—including refugees and the elderly—are often faced with both language and income barriers. Lack of access to technology and transportation can make it difficult to even make an appointment in states such as Texas.


Bridging Language Barriers with Remote Interpreting


The good news is that language barriers are easy to overcome with remote interpreting. Options such as video remote (VRI) and over-the-phone (OPI) interpreting offer affordable ways to connect with a medical interpreter on demand. Patients no longer need to wait for an interpreter to arrive onsite, and healthcare providers no longer need to pay for travel expenses.


When you use Boostlingo’s interpretation platform, you never have to worry about privacy—it’s HIPAA compliant. Plus, you’ll gain access to our Boostlingo Professional Interpreter Network (BPIN), which supports over 200 languages including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, Guajarati, and many other Asian languages.


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