France to speed up vaccination for refugees and asylum seekers

Paris, Aug 4 (EFE).- The French government has committed to speeding up the vaccination of refugees and asylum seekers in reception centers across France despite their precarious situation, language barriers and slow bureaucratic system in the country.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is involved in the initiative and has already vaccinated some 4,000 refugees and asylum seekers since July.

The plan to boost vaccinations during the month of August is very ambitious but it can be done, according to Cristiana Castro, who oversees MSF’s operations related to Covid-19 in France.

The summer campaign requires raising awareness about the benefits of the vaccine to “demystify the vaccination,” Castro said.

Organizers are using social media channels including Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok to spread information and stress the importance of vaccinating the most vulnerable.

Most of the refugees are male and asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb and the Middle East, according to Castro.

Some do have residence permits, but their situation prevents them from accessing health centers, as is the case for Miloud Jendli, a Tunisian man in his 60s who arrived in Paris in 1973.

To get his first jab of the Covid-19 vaccine, Jendli had to fill out a form, but with his broken French, it wasn’t as easy as intended.

“There are many people who speak neither French nor English. We have several members of our team who know Arabic and other languages, and we use translators and interpreters for our activities,” Castro said.

Since French authorities announced that a coronavirus certificate will be required to enter most public places, MSF has seen an increase in requests for vaccinations, although the organization believes that the health pass “risks marginalizing this group even further.”

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