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Interpreter helps Colerain Township's Nepali residents get COVID-19 vaccine

WCPO tara dahal nepali interpreter.png
Posted at 6:31 PM, May 06, 2021

Colerain Township’s at-home COVID-19 vaccination program allows people with disabilities to request a visit from health workers online. It’s a good system, said fire and emergency services assistant chief Will Mueller on Thursday afternoon.

But it had a flaw: To sign up online, patients needed the technological and English-language skills to use the website. To reach everyone who needs a shot, Mueller and his coworkers need help from interpreters like Tara Dahal.

Dahal, who speaks Nepali, has helped homebound members of the township’s Nepali-speaking community sign up for appointments and interpreted for them during their home visits.

“(Some people have) a lot of problems because they are illiterate, they do not know how to read and write as well,” Dahal said Thursday. “They do not have a ride at home. So it is very essential to help the community."

Getting Dahal on board has been crucial in reaching Nepali people with disabilities, Mueller said — and reaching them is a cornerstone of the effort to vaccinate every willing adult in the township.

"When we looked at the different underserved demographics within Colerain Township, that Bhutanese and Nepali population was one of those target populations that we wanted to make sure that we connected with,” Mueller said. “That partnership with Tara has been absolutely huge."

With help from Dahal and other community leaders, firefighters and medics have administered 180 vaccinations during at-home appointments.

Dahal said he was happy to help and grateful that Colerain Township thought enough about the Nepali community to extend special efforts at getting its members vaccinated.

"I request all the community people, either elderly or young, above 18, go to the vaccination site and (get the) vaccine,” Dahal said.

He’s so passionate about ensuring Nepali speakers in the Cincinnati area get vaccinated that he asked WCPO to share his phone number online, in case anyone who knows struggling Nepali speakers needs his help.

Anyone hoping to reach Dahal for help scheduling or interpreting can call him at 513-377-9328.