Communicating COVID-19 Health and Safety Measures to Vulnerable Communities: The Case of Refugees and Migrants in Austria and Germany

Judith Kohlenberger, Maria Berger

Publikation: Beitrag in Buch/KonferenzbandBeitrag in Sammelwerk


With the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, the relevance of efficient
health communication to socially vulnerable groups, including refugees
and migrants, has come to the forefront of public and political concern
in Austria and Germany, two countries in the heart of Europe with
a traditionally high share of immigrant populations. While their
national governments informed their citizens on public curfews and a
weeks-long lockdown in spring 2020, information in the languages of
(forced) migrants was delayed and incomplete, partly even inaccurate.
Consequently, many migrants were induced to avoid or delay treatment,
to misinterpret or ignore safety measures, or to experience heightened
levels of stress and anxiety. Refugees who arrived in Europe in the wake
of the great summer of migration in 2015 experienced re-traumatization,
were too scared to leave their homes for days and weeks, and reported
racial profiling by the heightened police force intent on checking curfew
measures. For fear of identification, undocumented and irregular
migrants avoided reporting for testing and quarantining.
This led to heated discussions on social inclusion, health equality, and
adequate communication policies for minorities, which has historically
proven key in containing the spread of infectious diseases (White,
2020), but also sparked xenophobic responses by the political actors and
the resident population. This chapter explores the factors reinforcing
in/sufficient access to information on health care and health literacy for
migrants and refugees in Germany and Austria. Secondly, we examine
the types and effectiveness of COVID-19-related health communication
targeted at migrants, with a particular focus on the vulnerable group of
recently arrived refugees and asylum seekers.
Titel des SammelwerksGlobal Health Communication for Immigrants and Refugees
Untertitel des SammelwerksCases, Theories, and Strategies
Herausgeber*innenDo Kyun , David Kim, Gary L. Kreps
ErscheinungsortNew York
Seiten94 - 111
ISBN (Print)9781003230243
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2022

Österreichische Systematik der Wissenschaftszweige (ÖFOS)

  • 504006 Demographie
  • 504021 Migrationsforschung
  • 509012 Sozialpolitik