Effort begun to ease online access for Spanish-speakers to register for Covid-19 vaccines

“Everybody needs to do better,” says District 4 City Council member

District 4 Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia says the Spanish-speaking community is challenged when it comes to securing a COVID-19 vaccine appointment online.

SAN ANTONIO – Many seniors who already have difficulty scheduling their Covid-19 vaccine appointments online also have a language barrier since they speak primarily Spanish, said Adriana Rocha Garcia, who represents District 4 on the City Council.

“I think that we really need to get together and figure out what that solution is for our Spanish-speaking audiences,” said Rocha Garcia.

She said she plans to bring up her concerns next week when several vaccine providers meet with the council’s Community and Health Equity Committee.

“I think everybody needs to do better,” she said. “I think that the problem is that everybody’s doing their own thing.”

Although the city’s Metropolitan Health District and University Health System have Spanish-language options on their homepages, Rocha Garcia said they should be more prominently displayed to make them easier to find.

She said it would help given that some may find it more difficult than others to access the information.

A city spokesman said its website can be found on all devices, however, “Many of our older pages are not ‘mobile responsive.’”

He said that means depending on the device, they don’t automatically adjust to the size of the screen.

“We are currently rebuilding the most used pages on the site into the ‘mobile responsive’ architecture, but this will take a while,” the city’s spokesman said.

Garcia Rocha said she had a similar problem trying to access the translation for University Health’s website on her iPhone.

A spokeswoman for University Health said it’s working on a website in both English and Spanish that would not require translation services.

Although no timeline was given, she said it would be available soon.

Pharmacies like Walgreen’s and CVS also have Spanish-language websites.

In addition to its bilingual operators who assist with vaccine reservations, WellMed also has a Spanish-language website.

CentroMed also has a phone number at the top of its website that has bilingual operators.

Rocha Garcia agrees Google’s translation service is vital. She said it uses some words in Spanish that are not typically used in South Texas.

However, the city’s spokesman said Google Translate has the flexibility to use over 100 different languages, many of which are spoken in San Antonio.

RELATED: How to register for the COVID-19 vaccine in San Antonio when appointments are available

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.