Switzerland to offer Covid vaccination for Swiss Abroad

Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

The government wants to widen its Covid-19 vaccination programme to include Swiss citizens living abroad and their families, as well as cross-border workers commuting to Switzerland.

This content was published on August 18, 2021 minutes

On Wednesday the government launched a consultation procedure to amend the Epidemics Law and offer jabs to two new groups: Swiss living abroad who do not have compulsory health insurance in Switzerland, and cross-border commuters, also without compulsory health insurance.

The families of Swiss living abroad – partners, children, parents and parents-in-law living in the same household – would also be eligible. 

Up to now, only Swiss residents, cross-border commuters working in the health sector, and foreigners with compulsory Swiss health insurance have been able to get vaccinated here.

This has been the source of some grumbles among the Swiss abroad community, many of whom live in parts of the world where they can’t get access to a vaccine; last week, they addressed a letter to Swiss President Guy Parmelin outlining requests and ideas of how they could get access to one of the Swiss supplies.

To date, the government has been reluctant to widen the net. On Wednesday, it wrote that “now all that all people living in Switzerland who wish to be vaccinated have had the opportunity to do so, the [government] believes that the vaccine should be made available to other people with close ties to Switzerland.”

As for costs, the government foresees that the state will take over the cost of vaccination for cross-border workers, since “they are regularly in Switzerland and could influence the course of the pandemic here”.

For the Swiss Abroad however, it’s not yet clear if the state will take over the payments or whether the individuals will have to do it themselves. The press release also said that the vaccination would happen “in Switzerland”; there was no mention of the idea of sending doses to be administered in embassies abroad.

On Wednesday, at least, the Director of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad, Ariane Rustichelli, said her group was satisfied with the government's decision, which "responds to the pressing need expressed by the Swiss living abroad."

Rustichelli nevertheless said the OSA will launch another proposal regarding the question of harmonised Covid certificates, another problem "not yet resolved" (see below).

The government will make a final decision regarding today's proposal next Wednesday.

With input from Daniele Mariani,

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