‘Falling through the cracks’: How foreigners are getting vaccinated in Switzerland

‘Falling through the cracks’: How foreigners are getting vaccinated in Switzerland
How some foreigners got a Covid vaccine in Switzerland is a mystery. JACOB KING / POOL / AFP
A number of foreigners have received their coronavirus shots while vacationing in Switzerland. How they managed to do so remains a mystery.

Only residents and cross-border workers — in other words, those who have Swiss health insurance —are eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines in Switzerland. 

But according to recent news reports in Swiss media, some foreigners managed to get their jabs in Valais and Graubünden. They were mostly tourists on holidays in ski resorts or foreigners who own second homes in the two cantons.

READ MORE: Can foreigners get vaccinated for Covid-19 in Switzerland?

“Some foreigners did fall through the cracks”, a spokesperson for the health department in Valais told, adding they were predominantly Italians, Dutch, British and French citizens.

It is not clear why these people were not spotted and turned away.

The online appointment platform in both cantons asks for the number of the health insurance policy, without which it is impossible to register.

And upon arrival at the vaccination centre, the person must present their Swiss insurance card. Failure to do so should have sounded an alarm among the personnel.

Reader question: Can I get the coronavirus vaccine in a different Swiss canton to where I live?

When the breaches were finally discovered, cantons started vetting registration forms more thoroughly. Since then, Valais ‘caught’ 250 foreign residents on its appointment platform and removed them from the list.

The phenomenon is not new. At the beginning of March, 165 people living abroad were registered on Geneva’s vaccine website. 

A busload of people from Italy was turned away from one of the canton’s vaccination centres before they could get their shots.

The only exception to the rule  are foreign healthcare workers employed in Swiss hospitals. They can get vaccinated in Switzerland, even without Swiss insurance.

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