Vaccination stations for undocumented migrant workers see police, lack of interpreters

The vaccination centers set up for undocumented migrant workers were swarming with police officers on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of the Rerum Novarum Center)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Vaccination stations set up to receive undocumented migrant workers in Taiwan were swarming with police officers while an apparent shortage of interpreters was witnessed by locals on Tuesday.

The scene seemed to be counter the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) recent promise that undocumented migrant workers wouldn’t be arrested when they showed up to receive vaccines.

CECC spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) added during a routine press conference on the same day that undocumented migrants can produce whatever permits or identification they have and they will receive vaccine shots with no questions asked.

However, one of the members of non-governmental organization (NGO) specializing in helping migrant fishermen in Taiwan, Rerum Novarum Center (新事社會服務中心) reported that this did not seem to be the case.

Rerum Novarum Center member Jason Lee (李正新) told The China Post and 4-Way Voice that there were apparent signs that the vaccination centers needed improvement.

He pointed out that after he heard of the news, he personally took some undocumented migrant workers to receive their vaccines only to encounter many police officers at the scene, making the migrants quite nervous.

Many police officers were stationed at the vaccination centers.(Photo courtesy of the Rerum Novarum Center)

Lee suggested that if the police were there to maintain order, staff wearing vests could probably produce the same effect while lowering the number of police officers present to give undocumented migrant workers peace of mind.

In addition, he advised that the signs at the stations be presented in multi-languages so that undocumented migrant workers know where to queue up without having to ask police officers there and increasing their stress.

Lee added that the government should cooperate with more NGOs so that they could provide comfort and let undocumented migrant workers feel supported during the process. Only in this way can they cover the possible lapse in Taiwan’s epidemic-prevention safety bubble.

In terms of the consent forms for receiving vaccines, Lee advised that they should be printed in multiple languages as well and be actively provided by the staff or placed in obvious places to help migrant workers obtain and complete them.

The signs were all in Chinese and there were very few interpreters at the scene. (Photo courtesy of the Rerum Novarum Center)

As the consent forms were mainly in Chinese, more interpreters should also be on hand to help undocumented migrants fill out their information and assist them when they need medical assistance, Lee added.

He also discovered that many doctors dodged valid concerns of migrants receiving the vaccines, by saying they had routine health check-ups so it should be fine.

However, Lee pointed out that with no interpreter to assist in the consultation process, who should take responsibility if something did happen to the worker after receiving the vaccine?

He added that doctors should also explain possible side effects and provide medicines on the spot that could help alleviate some of the symptoms.

Lee also observed that some undocumented migrant workers arrived without any identification, and suggested that they be reminded at the entrance of the vaccination station so they won’t take up too much time.

Lastly, Lee pointed out that the government should put forward a plan to allow migrant workers to receive a second shot of vaccine so that it would not result in them only receiving one shot, lowering the effectiveness of virus-prevention measures set against COVID-19.