By: Crawshaw, et al. in Journal of Travel Medicine
The findings in a nutshell
Ethnic and migrant populations were not prioritised in the national plans of most countries during the first wave of the pandemic, so these populations around the world are under-immunised. Vaccine hesitancy due to language barriers, unequal access to healthcare, and social exclusion leads to a gap in knowledge. The goal is to actively involve these communities in the planning, co-production, distribution, and implementation of their tailored COVID-19 vaccines rollout, to increase uptake.
There is emerging evidence from high-income countries that ethnic minority and migrant populations are reluctant to accept the vaccine against COVID-19, which poses a threat to the control of the virus, and all vaccine-preventable diseases. The World Health Organisation (WHO) considers this one of the top 10 global health threats.
During the first wave of the pandemic, most countries around the world did not prioritise migrant groups. Within high-income countries, migrants also have restrictions to local healthcare, are socially isolated, have language barriers and a mistrust of government. Migrants are thus more susceptible to COVID-19 vaccine (and health) misinformation, causing a decrease in vaccine uptake.
To prevent this, a key priority is to identify ways to engage with and deliver COVID-19 vaccination to these populations. The authors’ key recommendations were to:
- Include undocumented migrants, asylum seekers and other excluded migrant populations within the vaccination roll-out and provide access to healthcare
- Consider migrants within the vaccine priority structure
- Conduct research to identify risk factors for under-immunisation among migrant communities
- Actively involve these communities in the planning, co-production, distribution, and implementation of their tailored roll-out of vaccinations for COVID-19
- Incentivise better recording of data on these communities for vaccine uptake and improve the interventions and engagement around vaccine-preventable diseases
Implications for Australian workplaces
The key takeaway from this article is to ensure all populations are educated appropriately to improve confidence in vaccines. Workplaces have a key role to play in education and in ensuring that information is understood, and that any culturally specific concerns are adequately understood and addressed. Beyond simply providing information in different languages, nominating and working with team members from diverse cultural groups as representative ‘peers’ can assist with identifying and addressing vaccine concerns and hesitancy.
To find out more about What must happen to tackle vaccine hesitancy and barriers to COVID-19 vaccination in migrants read the full article here.
Date published: March 2021