In Lao PDR (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), out-migration, often to neighbouring Thailand, is an important livelihood pathway for workers.
The Covid-19 pandemic, however, had a significant impact on these international migrant workers. As the pandemic evolved, and lockdowns and travel restrictions were implemented, thousands of the estimated 1.3 million Lao nationals living abroad, mostly in Thailand, found themselves unemployed and started returning to Lao PDR. Many of these returning migrants were infected or had been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, raising concerns of the potential for community transmission, especially with migrants returning to rural areas where health facilities are not always easily accessible and access to vaccines severely constrained. This research examined the access Lao international migrants returning to Lao PDR had to Covid-19 vaccination and the practical and ideological barriers returnee migrants faced in obtaining the vaccination.