UCLA multilingual COVID-19 website offers vaccine information in more than a dozen languages

COVID-19 translation website illustration
The TranslateCovid.org website already will add fact-based vaccine information in additional languages.

The TranslateCovid.org informational site operated by UCLA recently launched a robust vaccine FAQ section, which to date has information in 17 languages including Spanish, Armenian, Chinese, French, Hindi, Hmong, Japanese, Lai, Thai, Vietnamese and more.

UCLA's Asian American Studies Center and Fielding School of Public Health created the site in May 2020 and have been updating it regularly as new information about the virus and pandemic emerges. During the past few months, they've been publishing vital information on the COVID-19 vaccines.

Asian American studies center staff also plan to add at least three more translations — in Chuukese, Marshallese and Korean.

Since December, the top searched terms on the TranslateCovid.org site have been related to vaccines. The site launched as a means to deliver accurate information to communities that often face an increased vulnerability because of a lack of access to official news, public health information and safety recommendations in a language other than English.

"As more vaccines become available to more people, it's critical that non-English and English-as-a-second-language speakers have access to factual information," said Karen Umemoto, director of the Asian American studies center.

"There is a great amount of misinformation and confusion about the seriousness of COVID-19 and the safety and effectiveness of the new vaccines," Umemoto said. "In collaboration with professors Gil Gee and May Wang of the Fielding School, we added frequently asked questions to address these concerns. We continue to respond to the changing needs of non-English speaking communities so we all have more equal access to lifesaving information at this critical time in the pandemic."

Importantly, these are not "machine translations." Staff at the center worked with professional and community translators to ensure accuracy and readability. UCLA alumnus Brian Fukuma, owner of eWebTranslators, assisted with the translations.

There is an urgent need to work with social and ethnic media platforms along with community-based organizations and agencies to disseminate accurate information to non-English speaking immigrant groups, especially in hard hit areas such as Los Angeles County, Umemoto said. L.A. County is home to one of the most diverse populations in the world where nearly 50% of Latino and more than 40% of Asians and Pacific Islanders have limited English proficiency, according to the Asian Pacific Islander Health Forum survey of 45 AAPI community-based organizations.

TranslateCovid.org currently hosts more than 1,000 resources in 60 languages. The site offers information on staying safe, basic scientific facts about the virus and even materials to help children better understand what's going on. Users can filter by languages, which also include Navajo, Arabic, Farsi and Vietnamese. For people who are hearing-impaired, there are videos presented using American Sign Language.

The center was recently awarded critical state funding that will help support the TranslateCovid.org site and ongoing efforts to create access to Covid-19 information for AAPI communities.

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