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Are asylum seekers, refugees and foreign migrants considered in the COVID-19 vaccine discourse?
  1. Ferdinand C Mukumbang
  1. School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ferdinand C Mukumbang; mukumbang{at}

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  • As the world struggles to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, different countries are increasingly focused on the protection of their citizens and are neglecting their obligations and commitments to protecting asylum seekers, refugees and foreign-born migrants living within their borders.

  • The vulnerabilities of asylum seekers, refugees and foreign-born migrants have exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, consequently, they are more likely to suffer the physical and mental health and socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19. Such disproportionate impact warrants them to be considered a most-at-risk population.

  • Structures and mechanisms and migrant-aware policies should be put in place both globally and within different countries to ensure that this population is not left behind in the COVID-19 vaccine narratives and considerations.

  • We argue that countries that get COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) vaccines should also explicitly include asylum seekers and refugees in their ‘at-risk populations’, to get the vaccines.

  • Also, the International Organization for Migration and civil society organisations such as Médecins sans Frontières should get sufficient COVAX vaccines and establish mechanisms to ensure the timely vaccination of this population.


There is a propitious belief that a potent vaccine against the SARS-COV-2 virus is a panacea for the COVID-19 pandemic. The need for a potent vaccine is heightened as many nations are finding it counterproductive to sustain national lockdowns and individuals are becoming complacent with their hygiene and social (physical) distancing practices. Currently, there are more than 100 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under development, with a number of these in the human trial phase. It is suggested that the introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent the loss of US$375 billion to the global economy every month.1 There is a scientific consensus that the only way toeradicate the pandemic will be to vaccinate all people worldwide.2 To this end, the United Nations General Assembly calls …

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