The impact of policy and policy communication on COVID-19 vaccination inequalities among Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia: a comparative cross-sectional interrupted time-series analysis.

Publication date: Mar 07, 2024

Equitable access to vaccines for migrants and refugees is necessary to ensure their right to health and to achieve public health goals of reducing vaccine-preventable illness. Public health policies require regulatory frameworks and communication to effect uptake of effective vaccines among the target population. In Colombia, the National COVID-19 Vaccination Plan implicitly included Venezuelan refugees and migrants; however, initial communication of the policy indicated that vaccine availability was restricted to people with regular migration status. We estimated the impact of a public announcement, which clarified access for refugees and migrants, on vaccination coverage among Venezuelans living in Colombia. Between 30 July 2021 and 5 February 2022, 6221 adult Venezuelans participated in a cross-sectional, population-based health survey. We used a comparative cross-sectional time-series analysis to estimate the effect of the October 2021 announcement on the average biweekly change in COVID-19 vaccine coverage of Venezuelans with regular and irregular migration status. 71% of Venezuelans had an irregular status. The baseline (preannouncement) vaccine coverage was lower among people with an irregular status but increased at similar rates as those with a regular status. After the announcement, there was a level change of 14. 49% (95% CI: 1. 57 to 27. 42, p=0. 03) in vaccination rates among individuals with irregular migration status with a 4. 61% increase in vaccination rate per biweekly period (95% CI: 1. 71 to 7. 51, p=0. 004). By February 2022, there was a 26. 2% relative increase in vaccinations among individuals with irregular migration status compared with what was expected without the announcement. While there was no policy change, communication clarifying the policy drastically reduced vaccination inequalities across migration status. Lessons can be translated from the COVID-19 pandemic into more effective global, regional and local public health emergency preparedness and response to displacement.

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Concepts Keywords
February COVID-19
July Vaccines
Vaccine
Venezuelans

Semantics

Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19
disease VO vaccination
disease VO time
disease VO vaccine
disease VO effective
disease VO population
disease VO vaccination coverage
disease VO biweekly
disease VO COVID-19 vaccine
disease MESH emergency

Original Article

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