Full inclusion of refugees and migrants in global and national immunization plans and their implementation is essential to making progress towards universal health coverage.

Remember, if you are healthcare worker helping migrants and refugees, you should not underestimate the unique opportunity to provide them with access to vaccination services. Missed vaccination opportunity will very likely not be compensated in the nearest future, remaining the public health risk that you have a chance to address now, unaddressed.

The main reasons refugees and migrants might not get vaccinated include:

  • Beliefs of some physicians, that multiple vaccines cannot be administered at one time.
  • Unaddressed vaccination hesitancy issues among this population due to language barriers between the healthcare worker an individual.
  • Absence or inability to read/translate their vaccination records in order to understand which vaccines to administer.
  • Lack of awareness of modern vaccination catch-up schedules leading to a missed opportunity of catch-up vaccinations.
  • Outdated beliefs of chronic diseases being a contradiction to vaccinations.

All of the obstacles mentioned above may lead to a missed “window of opportunity” situation, increasing the public health risks and possibility of outbreaks.

Vaccination hesitancy:

  • Religious and cultural believes. Religious reasons underpinning the vaccine hesitancy were identified for many religious groups, including Protestants, Catholics, Jewish, Muslims, Christians, Amish, Hinduist and Sikhist.
  • Distrust of vaccines safety and fear of possible side-effects. Perception of low-risk of disease. Also, there are worries about insufficient COVID-19 vaccines testing during clinical trials.
  • Distrust of healthcare institutions and health workforce and fear of stigma, discrimination, and impact on visa status. In particular, difficulty understanding the national health system on arrival and poor treatment by staff during registration processes is a main factor affecting trust in healthcare services for asylum seekers and refugees, which impact on vaccine uptake in these groups.

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