Nearly 200,000 expats can't access Covid vaccines in Kuwait

Nearly 200,000 undocumented foreign workers can't access Covid vaccines in Kuwait
2 min read
26 April, 2021
Some 190,000 expats in Kuwait do not have access to the coronavirus vaccine, and the kingdom struggles under the weight of the global pandemic.
Tens of thousands do not have access to the vaccine [Getty]
Tens of thousands of undocumented foreign workers in Kuwait do not have access to the coronavirus vaccine, as the kingdom struggles under the weight of the global pandemic.

Kuwait recently extended a grace period for undocumented expats in the country, giving them until 15 May to fix their residency status, although this remains  a challenge for many.

"This came due to repercussions of the coronavirus crisis and the airport shutdowns in many countries," a security source told Gulf News.

"It also offers the chance for modifying the illegal status to allow the foreign resident to get vaccinated against the virus."

"The recent spike in infection rates among the foreign residents sounds the alarm about the illegals who cannot take the vaccines because the validity of their residency permits has expired. They are now unable to register via the health ministry's website."

Expats struggle to get vaccine

Foreigners make up 70 percent of Kuwait's population, and they are struggling to get vaccines.

Unlike other Gulf Arab states that have administered doses to masses of foreign workers in a race to reach herd immunity, Kuwait has come under fire for vaccinating its own population first.

That leaves legions of labourers, workers in services, and homes still waiting for their first doses, despite bearing the brunt of the pandemic.

When Kuwait's vaccination registration site went live in December, authorities declared that health-care workers, older adults, and those with underlying conditions would be first in line.

As the weeks ticked by, it became increasingly clear the lion's share of doses were going to Kuwaitis, regardless of their age or health.

Initially, some expat medical workers said they couldn't even get appointments.

Kuwait has vaccinated its citizens at six times the rate of non-citizens, the health ministry revealed earlier this year.

Kuwait's labour system, which links migrants' residency status to their jobs and gives employers outsized power, prevails across the Gulf Arab states.

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