Please get your information on COVID-19 vaccinations and their efficacy from official and trusted sources, including from the World Health Organization (WHO), and avoid rumours, which would be harmful for the health and safety of yourself and your community.
1. What is a vaccination?
- Vaccination is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases, before they come into contact with them. It uses your body’s natural defences to build resistance to specific infections and makes your immune system stronger. Vaccines train your immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when it’s exposed to a disease.
2. How does a vaccine work?
- Vaccines reduce risks of getting a disease by working with your body’s natural defences to build protection. When you get a vaccine, your immune system responds. It:
- Recognizes the invading germ, such as the virus or bacteria.
- Produces antibodies. Antibodies are proteins produced naturally by the immune system to fight diseases.
- Remembers the disease and how to fight it. If you are then exposed to the germ in the future, your immune system can quickly combat it, reducing the probability that you become very unwell.
- The vaccine is therefore a safe and smart way to produce an immune response in the body, without causing illness. Once you have received one or more doses of a vaccine, you will typically remain protected against a disease for a certain period afterwards. If you do contract the virus or bacteria against which you have been vaccinated, the probability of it being severe is limited.
- For more information, please visit the WHO website: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/vaccines-and-immunization-what-is-vaccination
3. Whose responsibility is it to vaccinate refugees and other people of concern in Iran?
- National authorities are responsible for public health responses and the COVID-19 vaccination program in Iran. They have expressed their commitment to including all Persons of Concern, including Afghan and Iraqi refugees, Afghan passport-holders and undocumented individuals, in the national vaccination plan, through the SIB database.
- UNHCR is not procuring vaccines. However, we support Iran with COVID prevention and response efforts, including in strengthening the health sector and facilitating the access of refugees to national health insurance.
- UNHCR with other UN agencies continues to advocate with the government to include all persons of concern in the national vaccination plan.
4. Are refugees in Iran included in the national vaccination plan?
Yes, refugees and undocumented Afghans in Iran are included in the national vaccination plan and will receive the vaccine at the same time as Iranian nationals.
5. I am a refugee/an undocumented Afghan in Iran. How do I register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
- UNHCR understands that the Government of Iran will inform eligible individuals through health posts and BAFIA provincial offices, and that a specific COVID-19 vaccination campaign will be carried out through various means:
- Health Homes or Health Posts within settlements: during the COVID-19 campaign, these centers and Health Posts provide services 16 hours per day just as all Comprehensive Health Centers do.
- Comprehensive Health Centers and Health Posts: located in refugee populated peri-urban areas in some provinces and cities.
- Affiliated and non-affiliated Health Posts in each (urban or rural) to health and medical center.
6. Do I need to have any specific papers/ documents to get vaccinated?
- Amayesh card for documented refugees and SIB registration details or any document to prove presence in Iran. Undocumented will approach the vaccination location and by giving their personal information can receive vaccine.
7. Why should my family and I get vaccinated?
- Not all people infected with COVID-19 will develop severe symptoms. But it can cause severe complications and consequences, requiring long-term hospitalization, and in some cases, intensive care, which could be very costly as well. Even in patients that have recovered from the virus, long-term health impacts are a possibility. In the worse-case scenario, COVID-19 infection can lead to death.
- COVID-19 tends to affect more severely people with an underlying health condition (obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular or pulmonary disease, cancer, immunosuppressive diseases). However, everyone, in all age groups, is susceptible to the virus, especially the new variants.
- The vaccine offers an effective and safe way to protect against developing severe symptoms and disease complications.
- “We are not safe until everyone is safe” – it is important that everyone, refugee or Iranian, gets vaccinated to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Vaccinations are voluntary but are considered essential for the protection of individual and public health.
8. Is a second dose/ booster necessary?
- The correct procedures need to be carried out while receiving the vaccine, in order to ensure immunization. For vaccines that require two doses, it is important to remember that you should receive both parts of the vaccination at the correct interval. Immunity cannot be achieved with only one dose.
- Not taking the second dose may lead to symptomatic disease and increased infectiousness.
- A COVID booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine given after the protection provided by the original shot(s) has begun to decrease over time. The booster helps people maintain strong protection from severe coronavirus disease. Where possible, it is recommended that people who are vaccinated get a booster dose.
9. Can people stop wearing masks and practicing social distancing if they have had the vaccine?
- It is essential that everybody, including those who are vaccinated continue observing preventive measures such as hand washing, wearing face masks properly, physical distancing (avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, communal meals) and not working if they are unwell, have any signs/symptoms of disease.
- Vaccination does not mean that you cannot contract COVID-19 (although the possibilities are reduced) or that you are no longer a carrier who can infect others, it only minimizes the risk of severe impact of COVID.
10. How long will vaccine-induced immunity last?
- The period over which the immunity extends can only be researched over the coming months and years. It is also possible that different vaccines have different lasting effects on immunity over time.
- To learn more about vaccine-induced immunity, please see WHO.
11. Are there any risks, side effects or adverse reactions to the vaccines?
- Most vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, may induce mild and short-term effects such as pain at the injection site, fatigue or headache, and even light fever.
- This usually shows a starting immune response. These side effects usually disappear after 1-3 days. In rare cases, there can be allergic reactions or more significant adverse events.
- All currently approved vaccines have undergone rigorous performance and safety testing including trials on tens of thousands of individuals.
- These vaccines have received approval because data has proven them to be safe.
- Long-term effects are very uncommon.
- To learn more about risks, side effects and adverse reaction so vaccines, please see WHO.
12. What if someone develops side effects after receiving the vaccine?
- You should contact your doctor, a nearby hospital or health post if you experience serious symptoms that do not dissipate after 1-3 days. This may, for example, be allergic symptoms such as difficulty breathing or a skin rash. Your doctor can assess whether the symptoms may be due to the vaccine or other factors and start treatment if necessary.
- You will be informed at the time of the injection on the next steps/contact point for emergency.
13. Which vaccines are being recommended?
- UNHCR does not recommend any specific vaccine. However, any nationally rolled out vaccines and WHO approved vaccines should be safe, as they go through several layers of testing.
- Vaccine development, testing, evaluation, and approval is governed by scientifically sound and evidence-based quality, efficacy, and safety standards.
- WHO advises individuals to “take any vaccine is made available to you first, even if you have already had COVID-19. It is important to be vaccinated as soon as possible once it’s your turn and not wait”.
14. When can I expect to be vaccinated by?
- It is not possible to estimate when you, or anyone else can expect to be vaccinated by.
- Currently there is high demand for vaccines across the globe, and all countries are working to secure vaccines to vaccinate the population residing in their country. The current delays in vaccine shipments, brought about by limited supplies to COVAX, mean that some of the world’s most vulnerable people remain susceptible to the virus.
- The roll out of vaccinations in Iran is dependent on how many vaccines that the country is able to obtain through COVAX and other agreements with international vaccination producers, as well as if the country is able to manufacture vaccines locally.
15. Can I resume my normal activities after vaccination against COVID-19?
- Yes, you can continue to participate in all your planned activities, as long as you feel healthy. It is important to keep practicing health and hygiene measures after vaccination, as being vaccinated does not mean that you cannot contract the virus.
16. Can I swap my vaccine with someone else close to me who is not considered as eligible, so that they can take the vaccine instead?
- The entitlement to the vaccine is not transferrable. Individuals should register on the SIB platform and will be advised when it is their turn to receive the vaccine, based on their priority grouping.
17. Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine with underlying medical conditions?
- We understand the general concerns about vaccines specifically about their possible side effects. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems (e.g. heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancers, poor immunity and obesity). Such individuals are more likely to develop a severe form of COVID-19.
- Please contact your local doctor, hospital or health post about your specific health situation.
18. Can people who are currently COVID-19 positive receive the vaccine?
- The vaccine is not being given to an individual who is currently COVID-19 positive. However, an individual who has had COVID-19 can be vaccinated a month after recovering/ testing negative.
19. If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
- The COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you have already had the COVID-19 .
- However, those who are currently infected with COVID-19 should postpone vaccination until after their illness has run its course and after they have met their health authorities’ criteria to discontinue isolation.
20. How does the vaccination take place?
- Vaccination takes place at the nearest health center/facility to you.
21. How will I be notified about being eligible to be vaccinated?
- You may approach your nearest health facility and enquire.
22. Do I need to pay for vaccination, or it is free of charge? Is vaccination covered by the insurance?
- Vaccination against COVID-19 is free of charge for all persons residing in Iran. Therefore, insurance coverage is not necessary, and you do not need to pay any fees.
- If you are requested to pay any fees for vaccination, please contact UNHCR.
23. Can the vaccine be purchased from pharmacies or hospitals?
- No, currently the vaccine cannot be purchased. You must wait for it to be your turn to receive the free-of-charge government provided vaccine.
24. What if I am not willing to be vaccinated?
- Receiving the vaccine is not mandatory, and it will not be given to anyone without their consent. However, following WHO’s advice, UNHCR strongly recommends all individuals to receive the vaccine, should they be offered it.
25. Who can I contact for information on the COVID-19 vaccine?
- If you need more information and resources on COVID-19 and the vaccination campaign, you may call the following hotlines:
If you live in Alborz, Ardebil, East Azerbaijan, Esfahan, Gilan, Hamedan, Kermanshah, Kurdistan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Qom, Semnan, Tehran, West Azerbaijan, Zanjan provinces.
Telephone: 📞 021- 88212520 (Sunday to Thursday from 8:30 to 15:30)
If you live in Esfahan province
Telephone: 📞 031-3444 2841 (Sunday to Wednesday from 08:30 to 15:30)
If you live in Khorasan Razavi, South Khorasan, North Khorasan and Golestan provinces.
Telephone: 📞 051-37685641 (Sunday to Wednesday from 09:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 16:00)
If you live in Kerman, Yazd, Sistan & Baluchestan and Hormozgan provinces.
Telephone: 📞 034-32476851 and 📞 034-32476850 (Sunday to Wednesday from 8:30 to 15:30)
If you live in Fars, Bushehr, Khuzestan, Ilam and Lorestan provinces.
Telephone: 📞 071-37229692 and 📞 071-37236014 (Sunday to Wednesday from 8:30 to 15:30)