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COVID-19: Equitable Vaccine Access For All, Including Migrants, Is Crucial, Say UN Special Rapporteurs

GENEVA (22 January 2021) – UN human rights experts today called on States to ensure migrants are included in national COVID-19 vaccination programmes, which must offer equitable access for all.

“The pandemic has highlighted how now, more than ever, none of us will be safe until everyone is safe. Global access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone who needs them is the only solution,” the UN Special Rapporteurs said.

“The prioritisation of vaccines within countries should include all those who qualify under a priority group, regardless of who they are. Migrants should be granted access to vaccines on an equal basis with provisions for nationals.”

The experts said it is critical that migrants, regardless of migration status, are included at all stages of public health responses, including national vaccination programmes.

“The full inclusion of migrants is a vital issue for both the migrant population and the host community. We praise States that care for migrants like their own nationals, especially those who have started providing vaccines to migrants. We appeal to all countries to follow suit.”

The UN experts said all States should increase vaccination coverage among the most vulnerable, including those who belong to socially disadvantaged groups, such as migrants. “States should double their efforts to overcome administrative and practical obstacles and establish protocols that facilitate equitable access to vaccines for migrants, including those in irregular situations,” they said.

“In times of crisis, focus should be given to international solidarity, equality and inclusiveness. We call on world leaders to refrain from discriminatory discourses that may lead to the exclusion of certain groups, such as migrants in irregular situations, from the present global public health response."

*The UN Special Rapporteurs: Mr. Felipe González Morales (Chile) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants in June 2017 by the UN Human Rights Council, for an initial period of three years. As a Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. He is Professor of International Law at the Diego Portales University, in Santiago, Chile, where he is also the Director of a Master's programme in International Human Rights Law.

Ms. Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

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