By Eilis O’Neill | UNITED STATES |
In January, Dr. Angad Singh was worried. People in his community — the Punjabi community — were getting Covid, and more contagious variants were starting to spread.
“The initial testing suggested that folks of Punjabi descent were getting disproportionate rates of Covid-19 infections,” Singh said. “We were very, very scared.”
Singh later learned that Punjabis weren’t getting Covid at disproportionate rates. The problem was that the disease was out of control throughout south King County, where many Punjabis live.
But the fear planted a seed.
“We didn’t want someone else to come tell us what we need to do,” Singh said. “We wanted to understand for ourselves, and be able to work within our own community to address the issues.”
For Singh, addressing the issue meant making sure his community had access to the Covid vaccine. He said he’s met members of the Punjabi community who want a vaccine but may not feel comfortable — or be able to — go to a mass vaccination site to get one.
“Many of the members of my community may or may not speak English, or may or may not have been recent immigrants,” Singh said. “They really would want to be vaccinated in a place they find comfortable and convenient.”
So Singh worked with others in his community to set up a vaccine clinic at the Sikh temple, or gurdwara, in Renton. Over two Sundays, the clinic at the temple got more than 400 people their first and second doses.
For some, getting vaccinated at their place of worship was simply more convenient. One man here said that he had trouble getting an appointment earlier on, but no trouble getting his vaccine at the gurdwara.
For others, getting vaccinated here meant being able to communicate in their own language. Most of the volunteers — from the greeters to the people at the registration table to the vaccinators and the post-vaccination observers — were of South Asian descent. They were able to translate and interpret in 14 languages — not just Punjabi, but Nepali, Urdu, and other South Asian languages.
But, for many, the vaccine clinic’s location was about much more than convenience.
“People told us that the gurdwara is a sanctuary to them,” Singh said. “And so they wanted to be in a space that they considered a sanctuary.”
Read the full story, ‘This Sikh doctor helped bring vaccines to a Renton temple — and it worked’ (7 June 2021, KUOW radio station website), here.
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