Thursday, 23 September, 2021

Vaccination for Outbound Migrant Workers

Troubles far from over

Troubles far from over

Stranded and fresh outbound migrant workers are running into difficulties in getting vaccinated against Covid-19 despite the government’s decision to inoculate them on a priority basis. 

Many outbound expatriate workers complained that they are yet to get SMS to receive their first dose of vaccine even after three weeks of registration or waiting to get SMS for second dose while they took the first dose one month ago.

These hapless outbound workers said they will fail to return to their workplaces if the validity of their visa and iqama (work permit) ends due to delay in receiving vaccine.

“I got registered to receive my first dose of vaccine three weeks ago through Surokkha app stipulated by the government. I was supposed to get SMS on a priority basis but I am still waiting for SMS,” said Moniruzzaman, a stranded Qatar-bound expatriate worker from Cumilla.

“Validity of my visa and iqama will end on September 30. If I fail to receive full dose of Covid-19 vaccine within this time limit, I cannot return to my workplace,” he added.

Saudi Arabia-bound worker Babul Mia, who came to Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital from Manikganj, said he has already gotten the first dose of Moderna vaccine, but has yet to receive SMS for taking the second dose.  

“One month has elapsed since I took the first dose, but I have yet to receive SMS for the second dose. I have come here as per the date mentioned on my vaccine registration card,” he said.

Additional Director General of Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) Nafriza Shayma said, “Expatriate workers are receiving jabs without any hassle. We in association with ICT and Health ministries are trying to make the whole process smooth for them. If they face any problem, they can inform us or the hospital authority.”

“There is no problem with the registration process. We confirm registration of expat workers following the list of names of outbound workers sent by the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment,” she said.

SMS for vaccination sometimes depends on the availability of vaccine according to the priority of workers,” said Foyez Ahmed, Director of registration of expatriate workers and an official of Management Information System (MIS) at DGHS.

Expatriate workers also said apart from problems with registration and SMS, hospitals and vaccination centres are suffering from mismanagement. According to them, most of the hospitals and vaccination centres do not have separate arrangement for outbound workers. As a result, they are force to wait for long hours in common queues.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Director Brig Gen Dr Md Nazrul Islam Khan said, “We are considering their problems with sympathy. If any expat worker shows us proof that validity of his visa and work permit will end soon, we administer vaccine to him even if he cannot show SMS.”