Social Issues

Spain’s undocumented migrants’ struggle for vaccination

Macarena Soto

Madrid, May 14 (EFE).- “I know that getting vaccinated will not prevent me from getting infected, but at least I could leave my home with peace of mind.” Livia, 70 years old, left Venezuela six years ago to join her family in Spain. But with no legal residency, she has been living as an undocumented migrant, with no access to healthcare.

In Spain, 90% of people over the age of 60 have received their first vaccination dose, and nearly 44% are fully immunised. Livia is still waiting for her turn.

“Healthcare in Spain is not universal,” the president of Doctors of the World, Nieves Turienzo, told Efe. Livia is one of the half a million people who, according to estimates, live in the country undocumented and with no access to healthcare.

Erika has been living in Spain for 21 years. In 2018, her parents joined her from Peru. But with limited access to healthcare, she is struggling to find access to vaccination for her 75 and 76 year-old parents.

“The insurance company told me that they did not have any vaccines and that it was in the hands of the government, so I filed a complaint,” Erika said.

Finally, after battling with insurance companies and the healthcare systems, she managed to get her parents the Covid-19 vaccine. “At the health centre, I had tears in my eyes and I think they felt sorry for me and finally gave me an appointment,” she told Efe.

Another obstacle for undocumented people to receive medical treatment is the fear of getting deported. After working so hard to get to Spain, some prefer to stay away from authorities, including the public health care system.

#RegularizacionYa, an organization fighting for migrant rights, says it is the government’s responsibility to develop public health plans that take into account all groups, especially the more vulnerable.

“During the pandemic, the Spanish government has failed in its obligation to establish health plans that respond to the needs of undocumented migrants”, something that “not only puts the health of migrants at risk, but the entire population”, the organization told Efe.

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