Geneva, Switzerland | Xinhua | Too many barriers still prevent refugees from being vaccinated against COVID-19, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Thursday, as only a small portion of the 82.4 million displaced individuals received jabs.
“Around the world, we have seen an unwavering commitment to not leave refugees behind in COVID-19 vaccination planning. But barriers to vaccination persist,” stressed Ann Burton, Chief of UNHCR Public Health Section.
The Geneva-based organization reported several types of obstacles, including vaccination centers located too far and registering systems too complicated to use or in languages that were not understood by refugees.
In some countries, vaccination required identity documents that were not possessed by many refugees and asylum-seekers. In others, costs of vaccines were too high for refugees, affecting fair access to COVID-19 vaccines. Lack of information, or even misinformation in some cases, created even more issues to vaccinate displaced people.
The UN agency saluted the efforts of some countries, notably Serbia, which brought vaccines directly in asylum centers and completed vaccination for refugees living in private housing.
The UNHCR hoped that more effort will be done to vaccinate 20 percent of global refugees as it is an objective of the COVAX Facility, a WHO-led initiative aimed at providing more equitable access to vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.