Information sessions to raise awareness among migrant population on the importance of COVID-19 vaccination
Ljubljana – As Slovenia continues with the roll-out of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign, IOM is supporting the national authorities in providing credible and reliable information about vaccination against COVID-19 to migrant communities. In the spirit of no one will be safe until everyone is, it is critically important that migrants, regardless of migration status, are included at all stages of the public health responses to COVID-19, including national vaccination programmes.
With the aim of raising awareness among the migrant population on the importance of vaccination to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in languages they understand and in a culturally appropriate way, IOM Slovenia implements group information sessions with migrants on COVID-19 vaccination. The information sessions are delivered by Dr Sanja Vuzem, an epidemiologist from the National Institute of Public Health, with the support of cultural mediators for various languages. In October and November 2021, six information sessions have been held in various locations in cooperation with the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants, local NGOs working with migrant communities Slovene Philanthropy and ODNOS Association, the Adult Education Centre Jesenice and the WHO office in Slovenia.
The sessions enhance migrants’ understanding of the pandemic and present measures to combat it, specifically the importance of COVID-19 vaccination.
Dr. Sanja Vuzem emphasized: “If ever, then now it is time we start accepting and communicating the benefits of science. If ever, then now it is time we start listening to each other to understand our fears. And if ever, then now it is time we must believe that vaccines can protect us so we can overpower the COVID-19 pandemic. It is what we were aiming to achieve with these information sessions. And if we changed just one mind or cleared just one hesitation, we achieved a lot.”
Primož Jamšek from the Slovene Philanthropy added: “All Slovenian residents have access to vaccination, including migrants, which I find commendable and, of course, much needed. But for me, access to vaccines does not only refer to the possibility of vaccination, but the possibility of obtaining comprehensive information and support prior to the vaccination. Migrants who do not speak Slovene very well have very limited access to credible public information, while at the same time they are surrounded with superficial and often biased information on social media. Therefore, the implementation of the information sessions is of utmost importance, not to persuade migrants to get vaccinated, but to address vaccine hesitancy by ensuring migrants equal access to credible information.
The information sessions were implemented in the framework of the project Improving Access to COVID-19 Vaccinations for Vulnerable Migrants in Humanitarian Settings, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).