Campaigners claim thousands of Britain’s undocumented migrants could miss out on Covid vaccine

6 February 2021: Morning Star: A DECADE of hostile environment policies could harm Britain’s recovery from the pandemic as hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants face barriers to the vaccine, public health campaigners warn.

More than 10 million people have already received at least one dose of the vaccine in Britain, but campaigners claim that the country’s population of undocumented migrants — estimated at between 800,000 and one million — risks being left out of the programme.

The government has specified that everyone in Britain is entitled to receive the Covid-19 vaccination free of charge regardless of their immigration status.

However public health and migrant rights groups warn this message isn’t cutting through deep-rooted fears of the NHS instilled by nearly a decade of hostile environment policies in healthcare — and the “majority” of undocumented migrants are unlikely to come forward.

As part of the government’s policies to curb immigration, some migrant groups must pay up-front charges for treatment, and NHS debts can be a basis to reject an immigration application.

Doctors of the World head of policy and advocacy Anna Miller said the NHS’s charging regime and data sharing with the Home Office has eroded trust, making people fear doctors and nurses.

“And now, as the NHS seeks to vaccinate everyone in the country, we are seeing the impact of this policy.”

In order to get the vaccine, undocumented migrants must register with a local GP or have an NHS number otherwise they will not be invited to get the jab.

However Regularise founder Munya Radzi warned the “majority” are unlikely to do so.

“In my experience people do want to get the vaccine, people do want to be part of the solution to control the spread of the virus but it’s the fear of what happens to me if I go to get this vaccine,” he said.

“Unless they get a strong assurance that their data won’t be shared they will not go. It’s a decade almost since the hostile environment — [the fear] is not going to go away.”

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This is the campaign of StatusNow4All: We call upon the British and Irish States to act immediately so that all undocumented, destitute and migrant people in the legal process in both the UK and Ireland are granted Status Now, as in Leave to Remain. In this way every human, irrespective of their nationality or citizenship can access healthcare, housing, food and the same sources of income from the State as everyone else.

Ask you MP to sign EDM 1442: Undocumented migrants and covid-19 vaccination or discuss it with colleagues.