Illegal immigrants can get COVID vaccine without repercussions as officials rule out checks
Undocumented immigrants will not face repercussions if they register with a GP to receive a coronavirus vaccine, the Home Office has confirmed.
The move could cover as many as 1.3 million people and it is hoped it will help build up the population’s immunity to the virus and start easing lockdown, the Daily Mail said.
The move includes all people who arrived in the UK illegally, including on Channel boat crossings, or those who arrived on short term visas but stayed after it expired.
“Coronavirus vaccines will be offered to everyone living in the UK free of charge, regardless of immigration status,” a Home Office spokeswoman said.
“Those registered with a GP are being contacted at the earliest opportunity and we are working closely with partners and external organisations to contact those who are not registered with a GP to ensure they are also offered the vaccine.”
The Mail reports that the Home Office will not take action when an undocumented migrant registers with a GP for a vaccine and the Department of Health will not share their identities with police or immigration officers.
Watch: More than 12 million people vaccinated in UK
A Home Office spokeswoman told Yahoo News UK that all primary medical care services are available free to anyone in the country, regardless of immigration status, including COVID vaccines.
The vaccines are also free to overseas visitors, meaning no immigration checks take place, and the Department of Health has told NHS trusts that patients undergoing vaccination, testing and treatment are not to be checked.
The number of undocumented migrants in the UK is hard to calculate but research has put the figure above a million, according to Full Fact.
The Mail adds that the plan will not allow them to gain other rights and they will remain subject to the age and medical-need priority list that sees the eldest and most vulnerable people vaccinated first.
Natalie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, said: “Once people are in our country, it's in all our interests to contain the virus.
“So vaccinating everyone whose turn it is on public health grounds, in the end, will protect us all.”
More than 12,000,000 first doses of a vaccine have been given out in the UK, alongside 510,000 second doses.
Watch: What you can and can’t do in lockdown