16 June 2021

Video blog Michael O'Flaherty: Covid-19 vaccine rollout and equality of access in the EU

On 16 June, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights publishes the seventh of its bulletins on the fundamental rights impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his vlog FRA Director draws attention to fundamental rights issues related to the roll out of the vaccines in the EU 27 Member States.


COVID vaccines are on all of our minds right now.

We’re preoccupied about the issue of global justice, of a global roll-out the vaccines.

But also we’re looking increasingly at how well we’re doing within our own countries. That’s the subject of the latest Fundamental Rights Agency bulletin on the topic – how the vaccines have been rolled out within the EU-27 Member States. And from a human rights point of view, it’s a pretty impressive story in many places.

But there are issues that need to be addressed.

Uppermost of those is identifying who you prioritise for access to the vaccine.

It makes sense that you look at issues of age and of health. You also look at whether somebody is an essential worker.

But there are many other groups out there in very vulnerable settings: prisoners within jails, migrants in crowded reception facilities, Roma in crowded settlements and housing contexts.

Beyond the issue of priority, we’ve got to look at the problem we see in many places of queue-jumping. It’s not just not fair – it undermines trust in the entire system.

And one last point that’s on our minds right now is the importance of avoiding discriminating against people, just because they either haven’t been vaccinated or they choose not to be vaccinated.