Migrants often travel state-to-state, or country-to-country for seasonal work. Frequent moves can make accessing second COVID-19 vaccine doses incredibly difficult and could result in the unsuccessful completion of the second shot in a two-dose vaccine. Knowledge of the difficulty in finding a second dose could also prevent migrants from beginning the vaccination process. Migrants are burdened by many barriers to vaccine access, including language, low literacy, transportation, and technological barriers, and are often limited time to take off from work. Traveling and the likelihood of incomplete doses increase barriers to vaccine access and better health.
Creating Equitable Access to Vaccines Through Vaccine Dose Tracking
Tracking vaccine doses for migrants is a necessary step towards providing accessible and equitable healthcare for this population. Health care providers need a system in which migrant patients’ vaccine provision is supported while they move. Individual health departments, health centers, and other health provision locations are limited in their ability to arrange care for migrant patients after they have left their particular service area. These migrant patients benefit from case management specifically tailored to them so that they can get assistance in finding a new health care delivery site where they can access the second dose vaccine at their new location.
Health Network, Providing Greater Access Through COVID-19 Vaccine Maintenance
Migrant Clinicians Network, a nonprofit that provides support, technical assistance, education, and materials to clinicians, health departments, health centers, and other health care delivery sites, has added a vaccine maintenance program to their patient case management system, Health Network, which is being used across the country. Clinicians enroll patients in Health Network when the clinician fears that the patient’s care needs will not be met because of migration. Health Network Associates contact the patient, determine where the patient is heading next, find a new health care provision site, transfer medical records, help the patient sign up for eligible programs like sliding scale fees, arrange for initial appointments, and is available for additional support as well. Through this extensive work, Health Network Associates, who are bilingual in English and Spanish, decrease the various health access barriers patients face when moving.
Health Network’s new COVID-19 vaccine maintenance program primarily focuses on ensuring patients can access their second doses. The program, in its pilot phase, may expand in the future to include additional clinical sites, especially if COVID-19 vaccines are recurring each year. The new Health Network Vaccine Portal is accessible to clinicians who can easily enter their patients without needing to enroll the patient into the larger Health Network program. This ensures a simple and rapid enrollment process, which minimizes effort on behalf of the clinician and provides quick service to the patient, who receives a follow-up call within days of enrollment.