SALO Public Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue: Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine for Migrants in South Africa, 25 March 2021.

The dialogue was chaired by Dr Rob Moore (Executive Director of Gauteng City-Region Observatory and SALO Board Member), with keynote speakers Zane Dangor (Adviser to Minister of DIRCO) and Professor Jo Vearey (The African Centre for Migration & Society, Wits) and touched upon many themes that are emerging in the context of the COVID-19 vaccination strategy. These included vaccine nationalism at a global scale, where the stockpiling of vaccines by some countries are entrenching inequalities, especially in the global south. As opposed to this line of thinking, the intention of the South African government to vaccinate all people within its borders makes sense from a scientific and moral perspective. If South Africa were to exclude migrants it would exercise its own form of vaccine nationalism. As such, Mr Dangor indicated that migrants should be integrated into the vaccination strategy based on whether they are frontline workers, have co-morbidities, falls in a certain age group etc. The dialogue also touched on the idea of migration as a cross border movement but also a movement within borders and the implications of this for a vaccination strategy. Professor Vearey indicated that this would complicate a vaccine that is dependent on two doses. Further, the idea came out strongly that no one benefits unless everybody benefits and thus a public health approach should be advocated for to those in decision making positions. There are some opportunities to do this. Examples include a recent action plan by the United Nations looking at the health of refugees and migrants with the help of the WHO.  Another platform for advocacy and lobbying is the Resolution on the Protection of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants. The final point of discussion was that of vaccine hesitancy from migrants, which calls for engagement with migrants who fear engaging with the state in any way.

Download Policy Dialogue Report here: PD-Report-Vaccines-and-Migrants-25-03-2021.pdf (salo.org.za)