Marta Diaz, Esq.
Immigrants’ Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine
Immigrants’ Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine
As people are increasingly getting vaccinated across the United States, many immigrants that reside in the United States have wondered as to whether they are eligible. There are several important things these immigrants should know about the vaccination process.
First, it is important to remember that the coronavirus is a public health concern. Even DHS (Immigration) is proactively encouraging all immigrants (both lawful and unlawful) who comply with residency requirements in a given U.S. state, to get vaccinated. In a statement made earlier this year to the public, DHS “encourage[d] all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines.” DHS also made a commitment to not conduct immigration raids near vaccination sites.
Therefore, if you are an immigrant who lives in a U.S. state, the fear of being reported to, detained by, or deported by immigration should not be a deterrence to getting vaccinated.
Second, each state has different residency requirements to receive the vaccine. In some states, it could be more difficult for undocumented immigrants to get vaccinated for COVID-19. For this reason, it is important to know the residency requirements of the state you live or work in, before going to get vaccinated.
Florida for example, NOW has very strict residency requirements. To get vaccinated in Florida, recipients are required to show any of the following: a valid Florida driver’s license or U.S. government-issued photo identification, a utility bill with a Florida address and the individual’s name, or a rental agreement. Mail from a financial institution or a government agency that shows the person’s name and Florida address can also be provided as proof. But often these requirements are not flexible enough. For example, many undocumented immigrants do not have a long-term lease.
Below is a basic breakdown of the requirements in the DMV area:
Virginia: In Virginia, government-issued identification is not required to receive a vaccination. However, some localities may restrict vaccination to residents, and you may need some type of proof of residency for vaccination. For most localities however, proof of Virginia residency is not required.
DC: You can bring a personal identification document, but it does not have to be a government-issued photo ID. But if you can bring a government issued ID, officials recommend that you bring it. For eligible DC residents, a personal identification document could include an official piece of government mail recently addressed to you, like a utility or medical bill with your name and address, a mortgage, deed or unexpired rental agreement. For non-DC residents who are eligible workers, you should bring something with your name on it that shows where you work in DC. It could be a letter from your employer, a work ID or a paystub.
Maryland: No examples of documents that qualify as proof for eligibility are spelled out in the state’s bulletin. But vaccine providers must apply the same rules to everyone, and they cannot refuse to vaccinate someone based on their citizenship or immigration status.
Please be sure to monitor these sites for updates. If you do not speak English, please ask a friend or family member who speaks English to review these websites with you.
Third, it is important that to be proactive and vigilant about obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine.
Below is a summary of helpful tips:
1. DO NOT be afraid to get vaccinated, even if you are here unlawfully.
2. BE PROACTIVE: If you have not done so already, pre-register for the vaccine. Also look to get vaccinated at local pharmacies.
3. Inform yourself about the residency requirements for the state you live in.
4. Even if your state does not have strict residency requirements, gather documents showing proof of residency. If you do not have a license, look into what other proof of residency you can provide.
5. If you have health insurance, it may be helpful to bring proof of insurance. But if you do not have health insurance, do not worry. You can still get vaccinated.
6. Any data collected for the COVID-19 vaccination program should only be used for public health purposes - not for civil, criminal or immigration enforcement.
7. If you do not speak English, you can still receive a vaccine. When going to get vaccinated, ask if someone is available to translate.
If you have any other questions about obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine in light of your vaccination status, please call Blaszkow Legal PLLC at (703) 879-5910.