Access to vaccinations is crucial for everyone in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of migration or refugee status. This study explored COVID-19 prevention knowledge, attitudes, and vaccination challenges among refugees and irregular migrants from Myanmar in Malaysia. This study employed a descriptive mixed-method approach. Convenience sampling was used to conduct an online survey of 174 participants and two focus groups (N = 14). The majority (51.7 %) were refugees, and 48% were irregular migrant workers. In this study, 90.9% of the participants used social networks and social media chats to obtain information about COVID-19, 84.1% understood and found the vaccination campaign helpful, and 44.2% were aware of it. Although 70% of the participants considered vaccination crucial, 95% said that they would not take it because of fear of arrest and deportation, even though they considered vaccination necessary. Approximately 21.2% of the workers reported that their employers did not provide masks or hand sanitisers. Most of the participants (39.7 %) lived in dormitories provided by their employers. This puts them at a higher risk of infection because of the difficulty in practising social distancing. As part of COVID-19 prevention, the government should grant an amnesty period and work with migrant civil society organisations to administer vaccinations and effective measures for all immigrant populations in Malaysia.
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The authors would like to thank all anonymous Myanmar irregular migrant workers and refugees who completed the survey and participated in the focus group discussion. Ethical approval was obtained from the Postgraduate Student Committee (PSC) of Lingnan University Research Ethics Committee/Institutional Review Board (IRB) in Hong Kong. Oral informed consent from all participants was obtained before conducting an interview and audio recording aligned with research ethics. All the participants' names were assigned pseudonyms. All methods were carried out in accordance with the relevant guidelines and regulations.
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- Irregular migrant workers