Specialist Language Courses

Essential Covid-19 Vocabulary for Healthcare professionals

The world really has changed and working with the healthcare sector, we’ve seen up close how much pressure our clients have had to deal with.  

A year ago, our training provision took a real hit as healthcare professionals left their studies to work on the frontlinedoctors and nurses looking to relocate to English-speaking countries could no longer fly and medical universities shut their doors. 


Pandemic’s Vocabulary


We know how important is to be able to communicate effectively in a healthcare environment, that’s why we’ve created a list of the essential vocabulary that will help you when working:


Word Meaning
Pandemic An epidemic occurring over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries, and usually affecting a large number of people. 
a new strain  
a cluster  
a carrier  
an underlying condition  
a curfew  
Personal protective equipment  
face shield  
surgical mask  
Protective visors  
to sterilize  
to disinfect  
hand sanitiser  







Depuis combien de temps a-t-il des symptômes? How long has s/he had symptoms?
Quels symptômes a-t-il (elle)? What symptoms does s/he have?
Etre testé positifs pour la Covid to test positive for Covid
Auto-isolement self-isolation
Je ne peux pas venir travailler I can’t come to work
Ne me rends pas visite cette semaine. Don’t visit me this week.
Je ne vais pas bien. I’m unwell.
Je suis désolé(e), je dois annuler notre rendez-vous. I’m sorry I have to cancel our appointment.


Expressing the news correctly


When detecting a positive case of COVID-19, it’s important to keep 

A successful case interview allows for the collection of critical information about a person (patient) diagnosed with COVID-19 and potentially exposed contacts, while providing support, referrals, and answers to questions the patient may have.  The goals of the case interview are to assess the patient’s medical condition, gather information for continued monitoring and support, and obtain the names and location information of their close contacts who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Developing trust and a warm, empathetic rapport while maintaining a professional relationship with the patient is key to providing the most effective support and collecting the most accurate information to inform the next steps in the contact tracing investigation. The interview process should be more than just checking off boxes on a case report form.

  • Is now a good time to talk privately? If not, what time works best for you?
  • If you are not available now, let’s schedule some time to talk about your recent test for COVID-19 /COVID-19 diagnosis. We want to check in on your health and make sure that you can get the referrals and resources you may need, and answer questions that you may have.
  • The health department received a report that you may have been tested/diagnosed with COVID-19. We follow up with people with COVID-19 to make sure that they have the information they need to keep themselves and their family safe. We also reach out to their close contacts to notify them of exposure so that they can get tested and quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • I am calling as a follow-up from your recent medical appointment (or test) for COVID-19. I want to check in with you regarding your diagnosis/test result(s) and see how we can support you and stop the spread of the virus.
  • I would like to review some important questions with you so we can provide you with support and work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our city/county/town.



Communicating effectively about the vaccines

As vaccination has started, you’ll find out that some people are more eager to get it while others aren’t. Healthcare professionals play an important role in communicating the benefits of getting it with empathy.


The first recommendation is to bring the facts upfront




Employers can serve as a source of truth, linking employees to reliable and trustworthy resources by:

  • Communicating fact-based information about vaccine safety, efficacy and cost, with a focus on combatting misinformation (e.g., vaccines were rushed)
  • Reassuring employees that any cost to administer vaccines will be covered by your company’s health plan
  • Providing direct links to state health departments (currently the best source for more information) and continuing to send updates as guidance and availability changes in your area
Be nimble and make it easy

Vaccination is a choice, but you can make it an easier one by providing fact-based information. As you implement policies to encourage vaccination, such as providing paid time-off to get the shots, make it easy for employees to understand and use these programs.

Employers should provide easy-to-understand communication about why, how and where employees can get vaccinated or find more information. Because employees may be in varied settings, use a variety of media:

  • Posters for those on site
  • Emails for those working from home
  • Text messages for those in the field
  • A microsite or app that can be updated regularly with new information
  • A postcard to help employees know where to look for updates

Because the roll out of vaccines differs by municipality, state and also country, provide tools and templates across worksites to enable local teams to send timely communications as vaccine availability changes in their areas.

Encourage vaccination, but don’t mandate it

Many employers are considering whether to require the vaccine to return to work, but announcing a mandate now could backfire. Vaccine hesitancy in some populations remains high and could lead to employees prematurely declining vaccination.

Those who initially don’t want to be vaccinated may be more willing in the coming months, when they see their colleagues, friends and families safely getting vaccinated and more vaccines are available. Furthermore, those who are hesitant may grow less reluctant when there are requirements to show proof of vaccination for various activities.

As vaccines become readily available, encourage vaccination with fact-based education and by using positive language, such as “it’s time for you to get vaccinated,” instead of asking “would you like to get vaccinated?”

Lead by example

Leaders can make a big impact through their actions, which is why there are videos of world leaders receiving vaccines. While these images can be powerful, they won’t convince everyone. Some people may be more receptive to seeing more immediate leaders receiving the vaccine. Encourage leaders to share photographs of being vaccinated so they can share their stories and promote vaccine safety.

Other ways to encourage vaccination include:

  • Sharing personal stories from leaders or other employees about why they chose to be vaccinated
  • Providing “I got vaccinated” stickers — similar to the “I voted” stickers used during an election — to encourage social influencing and demonstrate acceptance of the vaccine
Provide reminders to combat pandemic fatigue

Pandemic fatigue is real, and we all feel it. Continue your current efforts to keep employees safe by providing reminders to:

  • Social distance
  • Wear masks
  • Wash hands
  • Use barriers

These public health measures will remain necessary to control the spread of COVID-19 in the coming months, even as more and more individuals are vaccinated.

Vaccine communication can be complicated, as supplies are limited and there are challenges with distribution and access. Answer the questions you can and provide a direct connection to trusted resources for those you don’t. When more information is available, share what you do know.

By providing timely communication, benefits and access, employers can assist employees in getting vaccinated — an important step toward ending the pandemic.






Want to prepare more?

English for Pandemics is specially written for everyone wanting to keep up, not only with the news, research and discussion around Covid-19, but with pandemics in general.  

It’s 10 hour long and packed with great content – from different types of viruses and how they work, to the symptoms and long-term impact of Covid-19, to the management of outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics, to the development of treatments and vaccines.  

It includes lots of interactive tasks, animated videos, talks and articles, so you really learn the language you need to engage with the subject.  

English for PAndemics