Migrant workers in Netherlands largely excluded from Covid-19 vaccination program

AMSTERDAM - Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who live in the Netherlands are currently not eligible to get vaccinated against Covid 19, due to them not being registered with the municipality where they reside, newspaper Trouw reported with investigative journalism Investico. They have not been counted as part of the vaccination program, even though many pay their mandatory health insurance fees.

Currently, only people registered in the Personal Records Database (BRP) by municipalities are invited to get a vaccine. However, migrant workers are often not registered with any municipality, in some cases because their stay in the Netherlands is brief.

Medical care professionals explained that migrant workers should be vaccinated against Covid-19, especially because they often live in shared housing and are therefore at higher risk of contracting the virus, or passing on mutations of the virus. “The objective should simply be to vaccinate everyone in the Netherlands who wants to be vaccinated," said Bert Niesters, a virologist at the University Medical Center Groningen.

“Labor migrants are somewhat extra vulnerable to coronavirus because they live and work together and often take the same transport. That is why it is extremely important to include them in the vaccination process," said Ashis Brahma, a doctor at the Noord- and Oost-Gelderland branch of the GGD, in an interview with Investico.

One logistics worker at Schiphol Airport contacted NL Times in April about the issue. He pointed out that neither he nor the people he lives with in housing set up by the employer have registered with a municipality. Few, if any of them, have a DigiD needed to access many government services.

He said he wants to be vaccinated against the coronavirus disease, but even though he handles cargo like Covid-19 vaccines and coronavirus test material, his own path to inoculation is unknown.

After reaching out to the government for guidance, a representative told him, “Only people that are registered in the Personal Records Database (BRP) in the Netherlands, can get an invitation letter for a vaccine. I therefore advise you to contact your municipality to get registered here, if you will be living in the Netherlands for more than four months.”

He told NL Times he is caught between a system in which he cannot register, a home country where the vaccination process is unclear and setting an appointment is difficult, and his employment agency that has not been able to iron out any firm details to help hundreds of his colleagues.

The FNV trade union told the newspaper it finds it unacceptable that this group of the population is excluded from the Covid-19 vaccine. The union will urge the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to pay attention to this issue, the organization’s vice-president Kitty Jong told Trouw

“These people often work in crucial professions and deserve the same protection as everyone else. It just shows how they are still too often viewed in the Netherlands as second-class citizens.”

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