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Health authorities to target migrants over Covid-19 vaccinations

Prepared vaccines at a vaccination centre in Giubiasco in canton Ticino Keystone / Alessandro Crinari

Swiss health authorities want to encourage more migrants and young people to get vaccinated against Covid-19, the SonntagsBlick newspaper says.

This content was published on July 11, 2021 - 16:34
SonntagsBlick/Der Bund/SWI swissinfo.ch/ilj

The move comes as vaccination rates stall across the country, despite there being plenty of vaccines available.

Last week around 60,000 corona jabs were being administered a day; at the campaign highpoint it was more than 90,000, the newspaper says. The target is 75-80% of the population being immunised.

Hospital figures for the canton of St Gallen published on July 8External link show that people from a migrant background have been more badly affected by the coronavirus: foreigners accounted for 38.6% of intensive care patients (they make up 24% of the cantonal population). Possible reasons: some migrants work jobs that do not allow working from home and a lack of access to information on the virus, the newspaper said.

Thomas Steffen, cantonal doctor for Basel City, told the newspaper that a lack of information (where to go and who pays) was also a factor in vaccination take-up among some groups of the migrant population.

Crucial phase

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) says the current phase in the vaccination campaign is crucial.

Adrian Kammer, head of campaigns at FOPH, told SonntagsBlick: “We need to step it up a notch again to remind young adults in particular that now is a good time to get vaccinated”.

FOPH has previously said that women, young people and those in rural areas are less likely to get the jab.

Kammer said that social media is an important channel for reaching the migrant population in particular. “Migration organisations are intensifying the FOPH campaignExternal link on their Facebook pages and cantons are sending out vaccination information via WhatsApp groups,” he told SonntagsBlick. In addition, information on jabs and hygiene measures has been translated into more than 20 languages.  

FOPH has also been working with channels like Diaspora TV (which has programmes in eight languages) and other media to spread information about the vaccines. According to an article in Saturday’s Der BundExternal link, an aim will be debunking some of the rumours and false news about vaccine side effects.

Canton Bern is also planning a campaign aimed at groups in the migrant population, nau.ch recently reported.External link

Improved access

Access to vaccinations for migrants must also be improved, said Andrea Feller, deputy head of the health department at the Swiss Red CrossExternal link.

“User tests have shown that many migrants who don’t know the local language well find it hard to register for the vaccine. The procedure is too complicated,” she told SonntagsBlick. Mobile vaccination centres and walk-in appointments would help solve the problem, she said.

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