NGOs urge Taiwan to provide undocumented migrant workers vaccines

TAIPEI (The China Post) — With almost 80% of Taiwanese having received at least one shot of vaccine, non-governmental organizations are calling for the government to provide vaccines to undocumented migrant workers who are left out of the system.

The “Anti-Human Trafficking Alliance” (人口販運防制聯盟) urged the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) to allow undocumented migrant workers access to receive vaccines to fully demonstrate “we are one” in fighting the pandemic.

The alliance pointed out the COVID-19 virus does not differentiate between Taiwanese and foreigners, nor does it have to ability to specifically target legal residents or undocumented persons.

They added that in providing undocumented migrant workers vaccines, it’s certain that the risk of infection will be greatly reduced, and even in the case of infection, the symptoms are usually very mild, and the probability of infecting other people would be lower.

According to the Anti-Human Trafficking Alliance, as of September 2021, there are 53,692 undocumented migrant workers in Taiwan. Although some have willingly turned themselves in and agreed to return to their home countries, the pandemic has delayed such plans, leaving them stranded in Taiwan without protection against the virus.

In addition, once the government allows undocumented migrant workers to get vaccinated, the Alliance urged them not to use this as a chance to dispatch immigration agency officials at the vaccination center to arrest them.

They added that the government should also establish procedures so should any of the vaccinated feel unwell afterward, they can request assistance easily.

At the same time, it’s encouraged that as undocumented migrant workers may not have their old Alien Resident Certificate (ARC, 居留證) or their NHI cards (健保卡), the government should provide alternative measures so that they can get vaccinated without showing such permits.

As of Nov. 17, the vaccination rate for those who have received one dose of vaccine reached 76.58%, excluding the 690,025 undocumented migrant workers. Meanwhile, the vaccination rate for those who are fully vaccinated is only at 43.69%. If the number of foreigners in Taiwan is counted, the vaccination rate would be much lower, making it a big problem in the long term.