Immigration Rights Advocates in Massachusetts Raise Concerns About Fair and Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Access

According to a report from Boston 25 News, two undocumented immigrants were denied access to the COVID-19 vaccine based solely on their immigration status at an undisclosed Rite-Aid location in Southern California. The company has since apologized for the unfair and inequitable denial of vaccines.

At the same time, immigrant rights activists are raising concerns about the inadequacy of clear protections for undocumented immigrants. Here, our Boston immigration attorney explains the concerns raised by local immigrants rights groups and the steps taken by the Biden Administration to help ensure equitable COVID-19 vaccine access.

COVID-19 Hit Many Immigrant Communities Hard, Advocates Want Fair Access to Vaccines

While no community has escaped the impact, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected immigrants and immigrant families. In a report published last year, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) found that households in the Commonwealth with at least one immigrant member were:

  • More likely to report a positive COVID-19 diagnosis; and
  • More likely to report a job loss or financial stress related to the virus outbreak.

It is imperative that all Americans, regardless of immigration status, get access to the available vaccines. As a representative of the group La Colaborativa of Chelsea, Massachusetts told reporters, getting vaccinated “lifted a weight off my shoulder” and she wanted my community members to get the same sense of relief.

DHS Statement: All COVID-19 Vaccine Sites are Being Treated as ‘Sensitive Locations’

State leaders, federal leaders, and public health officials all emphasize the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations. The virus does not discriminate based on immigration status and neither should access to the vaccines. Notably, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently released an official statement on equal access and vaccination distribution sites. The agency states that:

COVID-19 vaccine sites are being treated as sensitive locations for the purposes of immigration enforcement. In effect, this means that ICE will not conduct immigration raids or immigration enforcement activities in these areas.

This is an important step to help ensure that everyone can get their vaccination. In Massachusetts, you do not have to show proof of citizenship, permanent residency, or immigration status to qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine. Indeed, if you qualify based on age, health status, or employment, you can get a coronavirus vaccine without showing:

  • A Social Security number;
  • A state or federal ID; or
  • Proof of health insurance.

Unfortunately, the vaccine supply is still limited—not everyone can get one right way. You can use the official Massachusetts pre-registration tool to sign up. The vaccine is free to Massachusetts residents. Immigration status is not relevant nor it is checked.

Contact Our Boston, MA Immigration Rights Lawyer for Immediate Legal Help

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our Boston immigration attorney is a skilled, tireless advocate for immigrant rights. Get in touch with us now for a strictly confidential review and assessment of your case. From our legal office in Boston, we represent clients throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including in Cambridge, Quincy, Lowell, Worcester, Fitchburg, and Plymouth.

Josh Goldstein
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