Marginalised Roma vaccine-shy as long as majority remain lukewarm towards vaccines

People living in settlements show little interest in getting the jab; involvement of doctors they know and trust could help, according to field workers.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

When the coronavirus first reached Slovakia's marginalised Roma communities in the spring of 2020, very few among the public objected against closing the communities within police- or military-controlled quarantine. The hygienic conditions in the settlements have been seen as making the people living in them particularly vulnerable to spreading infection. Fast forward one year, Covid vaccination is rolling out in Slovakia, but vulnerable communities appear not to have access or interest in it.

People living in marginalised Roma communities make up a significant portion of inhabitants in some regions of the country. Exact up-to-date data are currently unavailable. The Atlas of Roma Communities from 2013 states that nearly 74,000 people (or 18.4 percent of all estimated Roma inhabitants of Slovakia) lived in segregated communities, while tens of thousands lived in Roma settlements on the margins or within municipalities.

“Coronavirus has exposed the vulnerability of this part of the population, and that isolation means an everyday struggle for survival in relation to marginalised Roma communities,” Andrea Bučková, the government's proxy for Roma Communities, told The Slovak Spectator.

Her predecessor in the post, Ábel Ravasz, concurred that the pandemic fully unveiled the precarious position these communities are in. Speaking to The Slovak Spectator, Ravasz listed the full-scale quarantine, the loss of jobs after the labour market situation worsened and children struggling to keep up with online learning without proper access to the internet, among the main problems.

Closures not automatic, hygienists claim

Unlike majority inhabitants, the first quarantines in the Roma communities early on in the pandemic meant the arrival of the police and the military to the area to make sure there would not be violations.

Even when that ceased to be a frequent sight, entire areas were often put in quarantine. Bučková noted that since the end of last year, her office had information of 50 cases of entire quarantined communities, parts of villages or whole blocks of flats. The number of marginalised Roma communities ordered to quarantine regularly increased over the winter and early spring of 2021, as Slovakia was coping with the second surge of the infection.

The rest of this article is premium content at Spectator.sk
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on Spectator.sk
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on Sme.sk and Korzar.sk

Get daily Slovak news directly to your inbox

Top stories

The Bratislava underpass under Hodža Square will become the Underpass of 16 November 1989 Students.

Nameless Bratislava Old Town places to receive names

John Selecky on an amazing search for his roots in Slovakia; lost tribute to Stalin taking on a modern twist.

7. máj
Justice Minister Mária Kolíková

Justice Minister Kolíková: I see no reason to step down

OĽaNO claims that the minister has failed to clear up all the allegations raised by the opposition.

24 h
Leatherworker Ondrej Sabela in his workshop.

Near rock bottom, artisans in Slovakia pray for a better season

The pandemic has forced some to find new jobs, leaving their trades behind.

6. máj
The Moderna vaccine

Age limit for Pfizer and Moderna jabs down to 45 years

Vaccination appointments further allocated strictly according to age and diagnosis.

24 h