|Foreign residents wait to get COVID-19 vaccine at the community welfare center in Gwangsan District, Gwangju, Sept. 5. Yonhap|
The government has come up with a set of special measures to boost the COVID-19 vaccination rate among migrant workers here as fears of a possible crackdown on unregistered immigrants are holding back their vaccination turnout, officials said Thursday.
The Ministry of the Interior and Safety, the Ministry of Justice and other related government agencies discussed the measures in an interagency pandemic response meeting held a day earlier in a bid to help ease the hesitation many migrant workers have over inoculation.
The plan includes the installation of temporary inoculation centers in areas with a population of 20 or more foreigners and the dispatch of medical workers to a place where there are five or more foreign nationals needing inoculation.
The government also plans to provide medical treatment subsidies for undocumented immigrants in the event they have officially recognized side effects from vaccines.
It will also launch a special campaign to help defuse any negative perception they have over particular COVID-19 vaccines, officials noted.
The latest government plan came as many foreigners here, especially those who are undocumented, remain reluctant to get vaccinated, largely out of fears over a potential immigration crackdown, as well as side effects from vaccinations.
In response, the government has consistently reassured it will not enforce deportation or other disadvantages for undocumented immigrants getting vaccinated, but the inoculation rate among illegal immigrants remains stagnant.
According to related government data, among 391,012 undocumented immigrants in the country, 164,892, or 42.2 percent, had yet to apply for a registration code needed to receive COVID-19 vaccine jabs as of last month.
"Concerns are high over potential medical expenses for visiting hospitals on vaccine-related side effects and identity disclosure (as illegal immigrants)," the central virus response government body said.
Heavy financial burdens for undocumented workers who have to get treatment for side effects without benefits from the national health insurance system also seem to be attributable to the lagging vaccination rate among migrant workers, it added.
The office also said it will cooperate with local governments to better implement the vaccination scheme for migrant workers and other antivirus measures, including preemptive COVID-19 testing on those employed at workplaces with high risks of virus infection, such as construction sites. (Yonhap)