Millions of people across the UK are rolling up their sleeves to receive one of the Coronavirus vaccines.
If you are preparing to receive a vaccine for the first time or for your follow-up dose, you may be heading to your local hospital, GP surgery or one of the many mass vaccination sites set up across the country.
We understand that most people will feel anxious about attending this appointment, due to the fast-paced nature of the process. However, when you are deaf or have hearing loss there are also other barriers that need to be considered.
Staff on site – vaccinators and usually a team of volunteer support staff – will be wearing PPE and face masks as a safety precaution. This may make it more difficult if you rely on lipreading to hear and understand what is being said about the process.
To help you, we have prepared some useful tips and created a printable resource to reassure you and help your vaccination appointment go a little more smoothly.
Preparing for the appointment
There are some steps you can take prior to attending your appointment:
- Contact your GP/health board in advance: If you have specific needs e.g. you require a BSL interpreter or have mobility problems, contact your GP surgery or organising health board/trust to find out what support can be made available to you.
- Double check how to get there / take a buddy: Make sure you know how to get to your appointment, or ensure you have friend or family member to go with you to help with communication.
- Prepare a notepad or Boogie Board: Have ready a notepad and pen to take with you in case you need the practitioner to write down any important information. Another alternative is a Boogie Board e-Writer which can be used to help with communication day-today after your appointment has finished.
- Download a speech to text app: – If you have a smartphone, make sure you download a speech-to-text app such as Live Transcribe or Ava. These could help to translate what is being said during your appointment. For more details about other apps, visit our useful apps page.
- Download our printable communication card: We have created a downloadable card which you can take along to your appointment. Simply print it off, tick the box(es) that apply to you and be ready to show to the volunteer on site and the vaccinator.
During the appointment
- Be open – Before you start your appointment, let the event volunteer staff know that you have hearing loss or you lipread and show them your downloadable communication card. These volunteers are on hand to support patients throughout the process and will adapt and assist where possible.
- Keep calm – If you become anxious or flustered you might find it harder to follow what is being said
- Don’t worry: If you have missed what has been said, stay calm so that you can hear the rest of the information. Ask the volunteer support staff or vaccinator to slow down and rephrase what they have said, or to write it down
- Ask for help: If you are feeling overwhelmed because communication is breaking down, do not be afraid to ask one of the volunteers or staff on site if you can have five minutes to take a breather and compose yourself. They be able to take you to a quiet or safe area to reassure you.
For general tips on how to communication if you are deaf or have hearing loss, or with someone who has hearing difficulties read our Communication Tips booklet [pdf].