Access to COVID 19 Vaccine as an Immigrant
Immigrants, whether documented or not, have a long history of struggling to receive medical care. Due to the health care system and immigration laws, to receive medical care in the United States one must have proper documentation and enough money, in addition to needing access to resources such as translation services or transportation. During a global pandemic and with the COVID-19 vaccine now readily available, access to healthcare is extremely important especially for vulnerable communities.
Availability and Accessibility
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 vaccines are available to all, including immigrants of all statuses. In addition to the vaccines being available to anyone and everyone, due to dire circumstances of the Coronavirus, the vaccine is free. While the vaccine is free, one might be asked to show their insurance so that insurance companies can be billed, but if you do not have insurance, the federal government will be billed instead. As the National Immigration Law Center explains, the federal government has set up a Provider Relief Fund to ensure as many people get vaccinated as possible. The Provider Relief Fund occasionally requests recipients of the free vaccine to provide a Social Security Number or some sort of state ID or driver’s license, but it is not required. If you do not have the proper identification, you can still receive the vaccine, but you may need to find a community center or a more lenient provider depending on your state.
The vaccine will be widely available to any eligible person and in order to increase accessibility the CDC has many resources for immigrants from translations to hotlines to various print and video sources.
Aside from being able to get the vaccine free of charge and regardless of immigration status, getting the vaccine will not put you at risk of deportation or affect your immigration status. While the CDC does require some personal data for public health reasons, as the National Immigrant Legal Center explains, there is a data use and sharing agreement that only allows this data to be used in matters of public health, therefore it cannot be shared with immigration enforcement. Additionally, there will be no immigration officers at vaccination sites in order to encourage all eligible people to get vaccinated. Lastly, while the CDC and federal governments encourage people to get vaccinated, choosing to receive the vaccine or not will not affect any current or future immigration statuses.