Supporting the call #Vaccines4All

By Lydia O'Neill NHS Government Covid-19 Race matters

Campaign groups have expressed concern at growing reports suggesting that marginalised groups are experiencing difficulty in accessing the COVID-19 vaccine. There are fears that being asked to present ID, immigration status or proof of address could present barriers to those from immigrant communities, people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and those from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

From the paperwork asked to provide – ID, proof of address and immigration status as well as other challenges around registering with a GP – to the more personal barriers of longstanding distrust in healthcare, more must be done to ensure that no one slips through the gap when it comes to getting the jab.

To improve the experience faced by these communities, the Department of Health and Social Care must:

  1. Guarantee a firewall that prevents any patient information gathered by the NHS or Test and Trace being used for the purposes of immigration enforcement.
  2. End all hostile environment measures in the NHS, including charging for migrants, to combat the fear and mistrust these policies have created.
  3. Provide specific support to all GP surgeries to register everyone, including undocumented migrants and those without secure accommodation, and ensure that all other routes to vaccination are accessible to everyone.
  4. Fund a public information campaign to ensure that communities impacted by the hostile environment are aware of their right to access the vaccine and the steps taken above.

The RCM is working hard to dispel some of the myths around the COVID vaccine and to encourage take-up among maternity staff, including this short video featuring black and Asian midwives and MSWs.