North Carolina Interpreter Vaccinated

Earlier today, MultiLingual asked an important question: Will interpreters receive covid vaccines? In North Carolina at least, we have our answer.

Spanish interpreter Jorge Gutierrez was among the first at University of North Carolina Medical Center to receive the Pfizer vaccine, which arrived at the Chapel Hill hospital Tuesday morning. The hospital received 2,925 doses; the vaccine requires two doses in order to be effective, which means 1,462 people can be treated. WTVD — the local ABC television news affiliate — reports 30 of these will go to UNC Medical Center employees. Gutierrez interprets primarily in the hospital’s medical intensive care unit (MICU).

“It’s a day full of hope,” he told the station.

As coronavirus spread, the language industry has been tempted to rely more heavily on telephone-based interpreting (OPI). But as Gutierrez told Chapel Hill radio station WCHL, coronavirus has given him a brand new appreciation for the level of care that only on-site medical interpreters can provide: “One of the things this [pandemic] has shown us is the importance of having someone who speaks your language helping you communicate at the bedside with providers. It’s something you cannot substitute that easily or complete with the telemedicine efforts we’ve seen happening here.”

Watch Gutierrez receiving his shot in this video at the 1:42 mark and read MultiLingual‘s prior coverage of interpreter vaccine access here.

Terena Bell
Terena Bell is a reporter covering the language industry for MultiLingual, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and others. In a past life, she owned In Every Language, an LSP, and served on the GALA and ALC board.


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