As part of our efforts to monitor access to the COVID-19 vaccines for undocumented migrants in Europe, we’re speaking with national-level advocates about the situation in their countries. This interview was conducted in June 2021 with Zuzana Stevulova of Human Rights League to discuss the situation in Slovakia. It is not meant to offer an exhaustive picture of the legal and practical context in Slovakia. Please get in touch at email@example.com if you have information you’d like to share, and follow our Twitter page @PICUM_post to get more recent updates.
What does the Slovak vaccination strategy say about undocumented migrants?
The Slovak vaccination strategy doesn’t say anything about undocumented migrants. And there haven’t been any official statements from public authorities on the vaccination of this group. Indeed, since having public health insurance is a condition for getting the vaccine, even some documented migrants are excluded, if they are covered by private (rather than public) health insurance.
So nothing is being done for the vaccination of undocumented migrants?
In early April, an amendment clarified that the Ministry of Health can expand access to the vaccines for groups of foreigners just by publishing a note. They haven’t done so yet, and it’s unlikely that they would include undocumented migrants.
Bratislava and other regions are currently operating special mobile teams to vaccinate people who are homeless and people living in socially excluded settlements (mostly inhabited by Roma people). These teams use the single-dose vaccine, Johnson & Johnson. In principle, undocumented people could benefit from this – but they don’t tend to be in touch with organisations working with the homeless (or Roma people). Most undocumented people living in Slovakia are not homeless, but rather seasonal workers who live in often low-cost accommodation provided by their employers.
How does the booking system work? Could undocumented people access it?
The mainstream booking system happens through a specific website, which is only available in Slovak. To register, you need a social security number (birth registration number) and a registered address. You also need to select your health insurance, which can be either public, or EU health insurance (for EU residents registered for residence in Slovakia).
This information is generally not available for undocumented migrants. Those who used to reside regularly and therefore had a social security number might be able to register with the old number, since the online portal doesn’t control the validity of the data provided. But this is highly hypothetical.
Let’s assume an undocumented person is able to register through their old social security number. What will happen at the vaccination point?
At the vaccination centre, you need to show your health insurance card and ID card, which is yet another barrier for undocumented people. Whether staff will actually verify its validity, that depends on the centre.
Are there any concerns regarding possible immigration checks if an undocumented person tries to book their COVID-19 vaccine?
Well, the starting point is that access to the mainstream booking system is not an option for undocumented migrants in Slovakia, because of the information that is required. The online portal isn’t connected to other public databases, and it’s unlikely that a vaccination centre would call immigration authorities in case an undocumented person tries to get their vaccine, but we don’t have a clear and formalised firewall that would prevent public services from sharing personal data with immigration authorities.
Cover: Martin Katler – Unsplash