Spanglish on the Website, Vaccines on the Shelf

by Kerry Dougherty

Here’s a tip for Virginia’s Department of Health: There are roughly 732,000 Hispanics living in Virginia. Consider hiring one of them.

Put him or her in charge of the Spanish language pages on the department’s website where critical public health information is displayed.

Because, according to news reports, the high school Spanish student doing the work now may have made a colossal error. Seems the page tells Virginia’s Spanish-speaking population that the COVID-19 vaccine is not necessary.

What it should say is that the vaccine is not MANDATORY.

Ay caramba! 

The issue came up during a Virginia Vaccination Advisory Workgroup telemeeting Monday, reports The Virginian-Pilot.

Dr. Rebecca Vargas-Jackson, a member of the group, said her students at George Mason University were the first to bring it to her attention. Before the faulty translation, the English passage simply meant the vaccine wasn’t mandatory, she said.

“There is nothing worse than providing misleading information to people that are looking for some answers,” Vargas-Jackson said.

The only thing worse would be sitting on more than 70% of the stockpiled vaccine while people are falling ill and dying.

And that’s where we are right now, despite a merry press conference by the governor last week setting a lofty goal of 50,000 shots a day and inoculations complete by summer.

Instead, Virginia languishes in the bottom half of states for vaccine distribution: 38th to be exact, with just 29% of our vaccines administered.

Guess who’s number one? West Virginia. A state governed by a corn farmer.

According to the Bloomberg Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker, West Virginia has administered 71.8% of the vaccine doses it’s received. That ranks first among the 50 states, according to Bloomberg, with North Dakota and South Dakota ranking second and third at 68.3% and 64.9%, respectively. For the U.S. overall, 36.5% of distributed doses have been administered, per Bloomberg.

“We don’t have vaccines in a warehouse sitting on a shelf,” Gov. Jim Justice said on CNBC’s“Squawk on the Street.” “Today, we have 100% of the vaccines that we’ve received … either in people’s arms or have a name tagged to the vaccination that they’re going to get and they’re going to get in the next couple of days. Now, what we need in West Virginia, we need more vaccines.

“We’re first now to vaccinate all of our nursing home residents and staff, as well as our assisted living,” Justice said.

The state has now set up Covid vaccination sites for members of the general public who are 80 years old and up. The vaccine also is being rolled out to K-12 teachers and staff who are 50 years old and up.

“This is all about age and age and age,” Justice said, alluding to the disproportionate impact the coronavirus has had on older Americans. “That’s just all there is to it.”

Age, age, age.

Leave it to a farmer to come up with such a practical formula.

Here in the Old Dominion, the only state with a doctor in the governor’s mansion, we have a far more woke system of administering vaccines. You know, one where inmates get their shots ahead of those ages 65 to 75 in the general population and before cancer patients with compromised immune systems.

As our neighbor — West Virginia — begs for more vaccines, Virginia has Spanglish on the website, vaccines on the shelf.


This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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25 responses to “Spanglish on the Website, Vaccines on the Shelf

  1. Virginia has a long history of failing at efforts that require strong logistics.

  2. Last time I checked English is this country’s language…

  3. I’m relatively certain that Google translate is pretty good doesn’t cost a dime. On the other hand, the person translated (loosely of course) probably was paid a tidy sum.

  4. Baconator with extra cheese

    Es no bueno.

  5. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Israel has a population of 9.3 million. They have vaccinated 20% of the population. Everyday people are getting the shot. Surely Virginia with a population of 8.6 million can avoid getting lapped over and over again by itty bitty Israel. Israel’s prime minister is the key man to the success. I don’t think he is a doctor either.

    • We do need to take into consideration that the entire country of Israel covers only about 8625 square miles, while Virginia’s total land area is about 39,500 square miles. This means Israel has a population density more than 4-1/2 times that of Virginia.

      We have a LOT more “ground to cover per vaccination” than does Israel.

      Please note that I am not saying we are handling the issue as well as they, just that our logistics are a bit more complex.

      • Baconator with extra cheese

        Montana, the Dakotas, and Alaska are finding a way to cover some land… their numbers are crushing Virginia.
        And we habe a Dr Governor who brags about being a tested military Dr. But he’s more a Radar than a Hawkeye.

  6. Northam is failing again. Why is anybody surprised?

  7. The headline is condescending. It is Spanish not Spanglish. Can’t we avoid these racist putdowns?

    • Dictionary definition of Spanglish: “A hybrid language combining words and idioms from both Spanish and English, especially Spanish speech that uses many English words and expressions.”

      How is using that word a “racist putdown?”

    • Individuals of Hispanic or Latino decent are of the Caucasian “race”, what you want to prescribe racism to is actually “ethnicity.

      “Spanglish” is also an Adam Sandler movie.

    • Spanish is a language, not a race. In fact, your to assumption that the Spanish language is linked to a particular “race” could itself be interpreted as “racist”. Many Hispanics speak Portuguese as their native language. Many speak English. And many non-Hispanic people speak Spanish as their native language.

    • Racist? No. Just good old old white Virginia woman xenophobia.

  8. Baconator with extra cheese

    Duh… because Peter said so and he is offended.

  9. Jim. The idea is using SPANISH.

  10. Baconator with extra cheese

    Maybe VDH can hire Hilaria Baldwin to film a PSA apologizing and clarifying Virginia’s position to the Spanish-speaking community.

  11. Translation from one language to another is not easy or automatic. There are words in English that have no simple or easy equivalent in many other languages, and vice versa. When the occasion is serious (e.g., legal proceedings, health care, safety) you definitely need qualified and competent translators, not amateurs or casual translators. And, machine translations are notoriously poor.

    Seems like Virginia officials didn’t bother to get a qualified translator or check the draft language before issuing it. Considering the potentially serious negative consequences of a poor translation, Virginia officials did not fulfill their responsibility to the public.

  12. Never underestimate the capabilities of a corn farmer.

  13. Jim. Remember the post a while ago where you used a racist image of extraterrestrial aliens dressed in sombreros and fancy vests holding tacos? You really need to think things trough, buddy. I have close friends from Latin America.

    • I’m assuming you mean Venezuela.

      Do they consider themselves “Hispanic” or “Latino”.

      Also, again Hispanic and or Latino are Caucasian, so the calling someone racists isn’t correct. It would be bigotry.

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