In the beginning of December 2020, the UK started with the vaccination program for COVID-19. Since we live in a pandemic, there has been much (mis-)information around and about COVID-19 and the vaccines. Therefore, it can be extremely difficult to know what is true and what is not – especially if most of the information is not published in your native language.
At SLRA, many of our clients raised this concern in our activities like Women’s Group or Youth Club. They told us that they would love to learn more about COVID-19 vaccination to make informed decisions.
Another concern is getting access to public health can be difficult for migrants. There is different rights depending on one’s status and visa route and it is especially hard for those have become undocumented. Often undocumented migrants get wrongly charged or refused support because health workers are not well informed. Many people are not fully aware about their rights and are thus worried to access crucial health care and support. Based on these concerns, we wanted to organize an informative session for all our clients about access to public health and specifically about the COVID-19 vaccination.
We got together with Regularise – an organisation advocating for the rights of undocumented migrants in the UK – to organise an accessible and safe info-session about the COVID-19 vaccine for migrants and refugees.
Last Saturday, the 20th of February, we facilitated a Zoom session about these topics to both inform our clients and offer a space for questions. Our speakers were Aliya from Migrants Organise and the ‘Passports not Patients‘ Campaign and Dr. Sarah Ann Filson. Aliya presented the legal situation around public health access for undocumented migrants and those on different visa routes and referred to good organizations and linked to get more support. Dr. Sarah Ann Filson spoke about Covid-19 and the vaccine. She is an expert in infectious diseases and a microbiology specialist and has done some research work about Covid-19. In the end, our volunteer, Lisa, presented the questions we collected in our different groups like Youth Club and Women’s Group, and the audience could also ask questions.
We had positive feedback from the participants who were grateful for getting more information and enjoyed the session. Even if not all questions could be answered as we were running out of time, it was good to start this conversation.
If you want to get more information about the COVID-19 vaccination and access to health care for migrant and refugee communities, together with Regularise and our guests we have put together a short list with related organisations and resources:
- Doctors of the World – amongst many other advice and support services around healthcare for migrants and refugees have translated COVID-19 health information in many languages.
- Patients not passports: A toolkit designed to support you in advocating for people facing charges for NHS care, and in taking action to end immigration checks and upfront charging in the NHS.
- British Islamic Medical Association have a lot of great and accessible information around COVID-19, the vaccine and de-bunking myths.
- Wellcome Trust also offers great resources about the vaccine.
- Information by the CDC (Centers for disease control and prevention)
- Collection of resources on Covid-19 vaccines by the New England Journal of Medicine.
- Vaccine Knowledge Project by the Oxford University.