WE ARE getting the message that getting a Covid vaccine is a crucial step in defeating the global pandemic. However, the vaccination programme will only be really effective if everyone is vaccinated.
That poses a real problem for people who do not have official permission to be in the UK. Should they try to register with a GP – the first step on the route to getting a vaccination? Or is the risk that the authorities will find out about their immigration status just too late. If they turn up for the vaccination, will they be carted off by the immigration police?
Another group which finds it hard to get vaccinated is rough sleepers, who can find it hard to register with a GP – and, therefore, join the vaccine queue – as they have no formal proof of address. If these groups do not get vaccinated, they will – obviously – end up suffering disproportionately from the virus.
The problem for the population as a whole is that if people who are in the UK without papers miss out on the vaccination, that increases the risk to the whole population. It is in the interests of the whole community that everyone is vaccinated.
Recognising this conundrum, Medact, Migrants Organise and the New Economics Foundation have together launched the Vaccines For All campaign. The campaign has been supported by 240 organisations – Councils, health organisations, migrants’ rights charities, faith groups and trade unions. It is calling on everyone to pull together and sign up to the campaign to persuade the Government to ensure that everyone can get a vaccination. Key targets are GP surgeries, Primary Care Networks, Public Health Teams and Local Authorities – but any community organisation is welcome and will, if they sign up, help the campaign.
Organisations in East London which have already signed up are: Tower Hamlets GP Care Group, Hackney Migrant Centre, Tower Hamlets Community Education Provider Network, Hackney Keep Our NHS Public, Hackney & Islington Unite the Community Branch, Hackney Patients Not Passports, and East London Unite Community. That’s not a great haul: there must be more groups out there who can sign up.
Here is how you can approach your organisation to sign up.
Step 1: Check the list of which organisations have signed up to make sure your organisation hasn’t done so: click here and scroll down. Check.
Step 2: Send your organisation this short briefing on the issue. Check.
Step 3: Email the briefing to your organisation. Here is a draft email to help. Check.
Step 4: Remind your organisation they can sign up here. Check.
Step 5: Share the call to sign up on your social media.
The Government has announced that undocumented migrants can obtain a vaccine for free. However, there needs to be an active campaign to get the news out and to reassure migrants that they will be safe if they come forward to help the public health of all of us.
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