NEW YORK, N.Y.: March 24, 2021— Today, Gideon Taylor, President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) announced the new Holocaust Survivor Vaccine Assistance Program (HSVAP) provided by the German government to support Holocaust survivors in the decision, organization, and vitally important process to get survivors to vaccination locations worldwide. The funds from the HSVAP, $13.5 million, will be deployed by the Claims Conference through an existing network of more than 300 agency partners around the world. Funds will cover costs including, organization of vaccination appointments, transportation to and from appointments, and coordination of follow up care and counseling for survivors before, during and after vaccinations as needed. Gideon Taylor, President of the Claims Conference said, “Many Holocaust survivors are vulnerable, and many are homebound. Getting a vaccine can be a scary step for a Holocaust survivor. Often, they need help getting through the process. Sometimes it is about holding their hands – figuratively and also literally. It is about survivors knowing that they are not alone.”
Currently, there are more than 340,000 Holocaust survivors living around the world. Vaccination distribution varies greatly from location to location, but in many countries, there is ample vaccine but no system that ensures access through transportation, homebound coordination and support, both physical and emotional. The HSVAP is intended to address critical gaps in local programs that do not meet survivor needs, by providing local agencies who support survivors with the funds they need to ensure that Holocaust survivors are not lost amidst local distribution efforts.
Claims Conference Special Negotiator Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, who led the negotiations with the German government, stated, “This added support from the German government will expand our efforts to over forty countries in which Holocaust survivors live. Once national governments make vaccines available, we will be there to ensure that every survivor knows their options, has access to vaccines, and does not feel abandoned. We are very appreciative that the German government responded to our request for support for this essential funding in such a positive way.”
“We have seen how this type of assistance can make the difference in getting this life-saving vaccine, In the case of someone who is homebound it’s not just a matter of having the vaccine, we must find a way to get the survivor to the vaccination location” said Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider. “In Israel, for example, we are pro-actively calling 18,000 of the most disabled Holocaust survivors and offering ambulance service to vaccine centers. In the U.S. we estimate 45% of Holocaust survivors are not yet vaccinated. We are rolling out a plan in the U.S., Canada, and Europe to ask tens of thousands of survivors we estimate are unvaccinated to see if they need aid in scheduling or transportation for an appointment. As additional countries make vaccines available, we will rollout outreach plans.” The HSVAP is a one-time program, existing solely for the purpose of ensuring vaccine access for Holocaust survivors.