Vaccines For All is a UK-wide campaign calling upon governments to ensure equal access to Coronavirus vaccines, regardless of immigration status, ID or proof of address.
The Vaccines For All campaign is concerned that due to the ‘Hostile Environment’ immigration policies of the UK Home Office, people may be reluctant to register for and attend vaccine appointments due to a fear of information sharing with immigration enforcement.
More than 230 organisations have written to the UK Government calling for an end to the Hostile Environment in the NHS, so that migrants can safely access the COVID-19 vaccine.
In Wales, where health is devolved, the same demands have been posed in a letter to the Welsh Minister for Health & Social Services Vaughan Gething MS and the First Minister Mark Drakeford MS.
The campaign calls on the Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, to:
The Wallich supports a number of clients without settled immigration status. There are also common difficulties faced by both migrants and people experiencing homelessness.
Speaking as part of our recent campaign for access to vaccines, The Wallich chief executive, Dr Lindsay Cordery-Bruce, said “When you don’t have an address, it can be hard to get or keep track of appointments. Successful vaccine rollout for people experiencing homelessness will sometimes mean reaching them on their terms.”
In response to the campaign, Dr Henry Hobson, a doctor in Swansea said “Migrants should be able to access healthcare without being concerned that their personal information may be shared with immigration authorities.
Wales aspires to be a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’ – now it’s time to start acting like it.”
Aliya Yule, Access to Healthcare Organiser at Migrants Organise, said “Temporary offers of safety are not enough to undo the decades of harm caused by structurally racist policies that have embedded immigration controls into vital public services.
The only viable solution is the immediate repeal of all Hostile Environment policies and the creation of an NHS that truly lives up to the principle of universal access for all.”
In a recent survey of migrants’ experiences trying to access the NHS, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) found that 43% of migrants were fearful of seeking healthcare for fear of having their status tested, or being charged.
Of those with refugee status, 56% were wary of accessing healthcare because of fears about data-sharing between the NHS and Home Office, rising to 81% for those with no official status.
These findings are supported by research from Doctors of the World that shows even with support from an NGO around 1 in 5 migrants are wrongly refused GP registration.
To find out more about the campaign for equal access to vaccines for marginalised groups, visit Vaccines For All.