Committee on Bioethics calls for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccination
The Committee on Bioethics at the Council of Europe published a statement calling for equitable access to vaccination during the current COVID-19 pandemic and all future pandemics, based on Article 3 of the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.
What does Article 3 say?
Article 3 – Equitable access to health care - of the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine states that 'Parties, taking into account health needs and available resources, shall take appropriate measures with a view to providing, within their jurisdiction, equitable access to health care of appropriate quality'.
What does this mean for migrants?
The statement says that 'access to vaccination services should be tailored to the needs of persons in vulnerable situations having difficulties in accessing health services', and identifies 11 vulnerable groups including persons belonging to minorities, low-income migrant workers, and persons without residence or with insecure legal status (such as refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented migrants). It calls for such individuals to be 'actively engaged with to understand which barriers are most critical to address and to ensure inclusive development and implementation of vaccination programs'.
The Committee says that member states should develop strategies to ensure appropriate support and the removal of barriers to vaccination for such persons in vulnerable situations. It also says that the provision of vaccines to persons without residence or with insecure legal status should be clearly detached from immigration control, in accordance with the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance General Policy (Recommendation no. 16 on safeguarding irregularly present migrants from discrimination).
View the full statement here.