Survey highlights on elderly immigrants and corona vaccinations

As the Finnish government started to introduce new corona vaccinations as a strategy to fight Covid-19 pandemic, concerns arose among the organisations working in the field of multicultural and diverse elderly care. Is authority taking into consideration the elderly, who belong to ethnic and language minorities, in their informative communication? (It is known that those belonging to language minority are systematically left out of services within a society. What then occurs during a global pandemic when extra care should be directed to the older population, is every one of the older population taken into consideration?)

A collaboration with different organisations in the capital region of Finland commenced and a low threshold-survey was conducted. The working team consisted of personnel from The Pensioners’ multicultural activities, JADE Activity Centre, The Association of Carers in Helsinki and Vantaa’s Omaisneuvo-activity, Palvelutaloyhdistys Koskenrinne’s Kotona täälläkin -project, Multicultural Memory Centre Finland and Monikko’s Paloma activity.

Reasons for the survey

With this survey, the working team wanted to know what their elderly clients’ thoughts were and how much up to date and relevant information they have gotten regarding corona vaccinations. The survey reached a little over 200 people who are clients in the organisations. The clients are over 50 years of age whose native language is other than Finnish, Swedish or English. They were contacted via phone call interviews that group facilitators conducted in the client’s native language. Alternatively, the clients were able to fill an electronic form independently. The survey does not meet the criteria for scientific research but nonetheless gives some insight on the situation from the target groups point of view.

Who were reached?

Majority of the respondents were Russian speakers (40%). The least reached language groups were Dari, Persian, French and Somalian speakers, which together added up to about 10% of the respondents. Regarding age, 60-69-year-olds were best reached and most of the respondents’ home municipality is in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Most of the reached responders were women, 79% with 21% men which reflects the gender ratio in the organisations in general.


At the time of the survey in February and March, 47% of the respondents were going to take a vaccination and the most popular argument was that they did not want to get seriously ill (81%). 24% were not going to take a vaccination and their most popular argument was that they did not think it was safe (62%). 29% did not know whether to take a vaccination or not and their most popular reasoning was that they did not yet have enough information on the safety and benefits of the vaccinations (85%).

Sources of information

The respondents had an opportunity to pick multiple options to list their sources of information. The most popular answers in order were:

1. From Finnish media – 51%

2. From family members or acquaintances in Finland – 43%

3. Searching independently online – 41%

Many felt that they had not received enough information on how their home municipality is organising corona vaccinations (57%) with only 27 % feeling that they had received information sufficiently. Information from organisations reached 20% of the respondents while authorities reach was insignificant.

Approximately half of the respondents need help with seeking information about the vaccinations or about booking an appointment for vaccination or needing a translator on site to understand instructions when getting a vaccination.

The respondents had an opportunity to give open answers on what would be the easiest way for them to receive information. Most popular answer was to get information in written form in one’s native language. The easiest way to book a vaccination appointment was with some help from another person or by phone/internet.

Observations from the interviewers

From group facilitator’s observations can be interpreted that many were waiting for vaccinations because of fear and concerns towards Covid-19. The respondents had a strong wish for a clearer and more accessible informative communication, preferably in their own language. Since the pandemic is a serious situation that might affect anyone’s health, it is understandable that information in a language one fully understands is wanted. In a critical situation one seeks information they have access to which can lead to misinformation as different countries have different instructions regarding corona vaccinations.

Among the respondents, there were troubles to understand the vaccination procedure. When is their time to get a vaccination and how to book the time for it? They also had a wish to know about possible side effects the vaccines might have. Other issues that were causing concern were new forms of the virus as well as different vaccine manufacturers. Some had had more information e.g., on the Sputnik V -vaccine and therefore felt it was more effective.

Report on Corona Vaccinations amongst Older Migrants in Finland:

Mari Pöllänen, Social sciences intern at JADE, Spring 2021