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How to Get a COVID Vaccine If You’re An Expat

Home Blog How to Get a COVID Vaccine If You’re An Expat

Sharon Clarkson

Insurance Nurse Specialist

If you’re an expat living and working in a foreign country, are you eligible for a coronavirus vaccine? And if not, can you return to your home country for a jab? To answer these questions, we take a look at some of the more successful COVID-19 vaccination programmes around the world.

How can I get a COVID vaccine as an expat?

COVID-19 vaccination programmes tend to be run by national governments or local health authorities. Most countries run their own vaccination programme, with a clear order of priority for different age groups, health conditions, and occupations, such as health workers. It’s a little different in Europe, where the EU runs the COVID vaccination programme for its member states. But wherever they’re available, the authorities are providing vaccines for  free, with the most vulnerable vaccinated first.

As an expat, you should be able to get a coronavirus vaccine in the country where you live. When you will receive your invitation depends on your position in the order of priority.

Some locations such as Dubai are offering free coronavirus vaccinations to expats who have a residency visa and have come to work remotely in the country.

Does private medical insurance cover COVID vaccinations?

With some health insurance plans, such as our Silver and Gold plans, you may be covered for a COVID vaccination under your well-being benefit. However, you’re unlikely to have to pay for the vaccine at the point of delivery. Find out more about COVID-19 and private medical insurance.

Do I have to be a resident to be eligible for a COVID vaccine?

Whether you’re an official resident may also have an impact, particularly for Britons living in the EU post-Brexit. If in doubt, a relocation expert can advise on whether you need to be a resident to have access to healthcare, including the COVID vaccination.

Should I return to my home country for a COVID-19 vaccine?

Many governments are discouraging travel, so expats will probably need to wait for their COVID-19 vaccine appointment in their country of residence. Any health insurance you have will not necessarily cover you for having vaccines elsewhere, but as we’ve pointed out, authorities are not currently demanding payment for vaccines.

However, according to news reports, some expats around the world are planning to return home for a coronavirus vaccination. Because Israel is leading the way in terms of its vaccination programme, for example, some Israeli nationals may consider flying home for their COVID vaccine to avoid waiting longer in their current country of residence.

Anyone who is returning to live in the UK from abroad will be eligible for the vaccine in line with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) priority list. Britons living overseas should obtain the vaccine in their country of residence. They cannot arrange a vaccine in the UK from overseas.
spokesperson for the UK Department of Health told Express.co.uk

Can British expats return to the UK for their COVD-19 vaccination?

The UK government is advising British expats, some of whom are perhaps hoping to return to the UK for a coronavirus vaccine, to wait and receive the jab in their country of residence. The UK government hopes to avoid unnecessary international travel and place additional strain on the UK’s National Health Service.

If you’re an expat, however, and you’ve decided to return to the UK permanently, you’ll be eligible for the COVID vaccination. When you actually have the jab will be according to where you are on the priority list. To make sure you’re on the list, re-register with a local GP.

Which country has the best COVID-19 vaccination programme?

Rate of COVID-19 Vaccinations (per 100 people)
Worldwide as of Feb 2021

William Russell - Blog - How to get a covid vaccine as an expat - worldwide vaccinations chart

The countries which had vaccinated the most people against COVID per capita by early February 2021 included:

  1. Israel
  2. the Seychelles
  3. United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  4. the UK
  5. Bahrain
  6. the USA

Within Europe, the countries that had vaccinated the most people (per capita) against COVID-19 by early February 2021 were:

  1. the UK
  2. Serbia
  3. Malta
  4. Denmark
  5. Iceland
  6. Hungary

So far, the EU has secured access to 2.3 billion doses of vaccine, while COVAX is on track to deliver 2 billion doses of the vaccine to lower-income countries.

Why are vaccines important as an expat?

Vaccines have long been important for preventing serious and potentially deadly diseases. They are the best way to protect yourself, your children and people in your community. As an expat, vaccinations are additionally important because you may need protection against diseases of the type that you have not encountered before. Whether you are up to date with all the required vaccinations may also affect your health insurance and access to healthcare.

When thinking about becoming an expat, you should research the vaccination programme in your destination country as this may vary from the one you live under at home. Expats with children, or who are pregnant will need to consider any variations between vaccines available and/or required.

What else do expats need to consider about healthcare?

Since Brexit, many countries in Europe require British expats to become official residents in order to access public services including healthcare. There are a number of requirements needed to become resident and not all expats will qualify.

For Britons travelling in Europe, a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaces the EHIC for accessing healthcare while visiting EU countries.

Overseas visitors to England will not be charged for vaccination against COVID-19.