Foreign nationals in Kuwait are struggling to get access to coronavirus vaccines despite the government’s vaccination campaign which has been rolled out since December of last year.
In Kuwait, 70% of the population is comprised of expats, who power the country’s economy.
Expats Struggle For Access to Vaccines in Kuwait
Unlike other Gulf states that have already inoculated masses of foreign workers in a race for herd immunity, Kuwait has been criticized for vaccinating its own people first, Channel News Asia reported.
This leaves legions of workers from Asia, Africa and elsewhere, who clean the homes of Kuwaiti citizens, babysitting their children, driving their cars and fixing up their grocery bags, still waiting for their first dose of the vaccines, despite being among the groups hit hardest by the pandemic.
“The only people I’ve seen at the vaccination centre were Kuwaiti,” said a 27-year-old Kuwaiti doctor, who like most people interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals. “Kuwait has a citizens-first policy for everything, including when it comes to public health.”
When Kuwait’s vaccination registry site went live in December, authorities said health care workers, the elderly, and people with underlying conditions would be first in line.
However, as weeks passed by, it became increasingly evident that the lion’s share of doses was going to Kuwaitis, regardless of their age or health. Initially, some expat medical workers said they couldn’t even get appointments.
Despite this, the government has also floated its plan to implement a “No Vaccine, No Visa Renewal’ policy on residence visas. However, not all expats including Filipinos agree on the implementation.
Despite the vaccines being administered free of charge in Kuwait, there are a lot of people who are hesitant to get it because of their possible side effects.
And expats who do want to get vaccinated, cannot do so because of the approach of authorities, favoring citizens in relation to the distribution of the vaccines.