During a Montgomery County Council meeting with state health department officials Tuesday, Councilmember Nancy Navarro highlighted Spanish-language translation concerns regarding PrepMod, the state’s COVID-19 vaccine appointment scheduling system.
The county has received feedback about translation errors which lead to “basically, a complete barrier,” Navarro told state officials. When asking for an address, Navarro said PrepMod translated the word to “hablar” which means “to address.” When asking residents to indicate their race, PrepMod translated the word to “carrera,” which describes a car race, Navarro said.
“And I share that because we know the research is clear that our Black and brown communities are disproportionately affected by this pandemic and that there is a lot of fear in terms of what is out there as rumors regarding access to the vaccine,” Navarro said.
“So you can just imagine that if we all do all this work that you were just describing and when people get to the step of registering, it’s asking for a carrera, a race— a car race, people are obviously going to give up. So, this is not acceptable.”
Dr. Jinlene Chan, Acting Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services with the state health department, said during Tuesday’s meeting that feedback is critical and translation issues are currently being resolved.
“Any issues that impact access or understandability, we do want to know about,” Chan said. Navarro requested that Montgomery County have a representative in state vaccination efforts, it being Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction, with many residents of color.
“I cannot be more forceful about the notion that we are here suffering because the disconnect that has been really in place in terms of our ability to access state decision-making and input, et cetera has really hindered our work,” Navarro said. She asked the state to work with and prioritize the county.
Examples: Navarro said when residents were asked to indicate race, Spanish translation said "carrera" which means something like a car race/running race.
— Maryam Shahzad (@maryam_mcm) February 9, 2021