Don’t deny vaccines to people who lack documents, says City Council

Published: Tuesday, 9th February 2021

The City Council is giving its support to a campaign to remove bureaucracy that prevents people living in the UK from getting a vaccine if they don’t have the right documentation.

The Government has stated that everyone is able to access the coronavirus vaccine, but in practice, people are being asked for ID, are unable to register with a GP, and are afraid to access services because of longstanding and entrenched barriers to healthcare. 

The City Council has added its name to the call for the Department of Health and Social Care to take action to ensure the coronavirus vaccine is safely accessible to everyone, regardless of immigration status, ID or proof of address.

Without further action, the pandemic will continue to have a disproportionate impact on all marginalised groups, including migrant communities, people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

The campaign also calls for a separation between health care and immigration enforcement, so that people with health risks don’t avoid getting treatment because they fear their immigration status will be questioned.

Residents are urged to register with a GP if they have not already; everyone should be able to register with a GP practice regardless of whether they have any ID.

“We believe it is in the interests of everyone that UK residents are able to access health care regardless of their migration status or homelessness. It’s not just the right thing for those individuals, these are people who live and work in our city and we know them as part of our communities and our businesses. Protecting their health is part of protecting all of us. We oppose any discrimination in government policy or the way it is delivered that denies them access to healthcare.”

Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Safer, Healthy Oxford

“We are proud that Hostile Environment policies have no place in Oxford whether in accessing our homelessness services or advice centres. This welcome step from the government makes it clear that the Hostile Environment is a public health failure. We are pleased to back calls for the government to guarantee a firewall, end NHS charging and hence ensure every single one of our residents knows they have a right to access GP services and the Covid vaccination without fear. Fear of immigration enforcement must not prevent any of us from seeking essential help.”

Councillor Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini, Oxford City Council Migrant Champion

 “As a GP and Clinical Director of a Primary Care Network I very much support the drive for improved healthcare access for all and to break down any barriers that may exist to people accessing the care they need. Covid-19 has shed a fresh light on the impact of health inequalities and it is so important as we roll out the vaccine programme that it is accessible to everyone who is eligible and that we do all we can to support people accessing the life-saving vaccines no matter what their immigration status or living situation is. This is our chance to make lasting change to promote better access to healthcare for all and seek to improve the health gap that exists in our country not just for the vaccination programme but for the longer term.”

Dr Kathryn Brown, GP and Clinical Director South East Oxford Health Alliance Primary Care Network