COVID-19 vaccine coverage, determinants and inequity amongst refugees and migrants in Pakistan: a cross-sectional study

Zahra Ali Padhani, Abdu R. Rahman, Sohail Lakhani, Rahima Yasin, Maryam Hameed Khan, Mushtaque Mirani, Muhammad Jamali, Zahid Ali Khan, Sana Khatoon, Riya Partab, Atta Ul Haq, Vinay Kampalath, Seyed Moeen Hosseinalipour, Karl Blanchet, Jai K. Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Migrants and refugees are at a disadvantage in accessing basic necessities. The objective of this study is to assess the inequity in access, needs and determinants of COVID-19 vaccination among refugees and migrant populations in Pakistan. Design We conducted a mixed-method study comprising a cross-sectional survey and a qualitative study. In this paper, we will only report the findings from the cross-sectional survey. Setting This survey was conducted in different cities of Pakistan including Quetta, Karachi and Hyderabad. Participants A total of 570 participants were surveyed including refugees and migrants, both in regular and irregular situations. Primary and secondary outcome measures The primary outcome of the study was to estimate the proportion of refugees and migrants, both in regular and irregular situations vaccinated against COVID-19 and assess the inequity. The χ2 test and Fisher’s exact test were used to determine the significant differences in proportions between refugees and migrants and between regions. Results The survey showed that only 26.9% of the refugee and migrant population were tested for COVID-19, 4.56% contracted coronavirus, and 3.85% were hospitalised due to COVID-19. About 66% of the refugees and migrants were fully vaccinated including those who received the single-dose vaccine or received all two doses, and 17.6% were partially vaccinated. Despite vaccination campaigns by the government, 14.4% of the refugee and migrant population remained unvaccinated mostly because of vaccines not being offered, distant vaccination sites, limited access, unavailability of COVID-19 vaccine or due to a difficult registration process. Vaccination rates varied across provinces, genders and migrant populations due to misconceptions, and several social, cultural and geographical barriers. Conclusion This study highlights the COVID-19 vaccine coverage, access and inequity faced by refugees and migrants during the pandemic. It suggests early prioritisation of policies inclusive of all refugees and migrants and the provision of identification documents to ease access to basic necessities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere080954
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2024


  • COVID-19
  • cross-sectional studiesAccepted
  • public health
  • vaccination


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