How colleges can help undocumented students get the coronavirus vaccine

by Jeremy

Dive Brief:

  • According to several media reports, many states have lifted eligibility restrictions for the coronavirus vaccine, but some unauthorized immigrants are encountering barriers to getting their shots.
  • Colleges should ensure these hurdles don’t prevent unauthorized students from getting vaccinated, such as sharing information with students about policies at nearby pharmacies and mass vaccination sites.
  • Colleges are gearing up to hold more face-to-face classes in the fall, but those plans rely on most students getting vaccinated.

Dive Insight:

During an interview with Univision in February, President Joe Biden said that unauthorized immigrants should be able to get vaccinated against the coronavirus without fearing deportation. Earlier that month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it would not conduct enforcement operations at or near vaccine distribution sites.

How colleges can help undocumented students get the coronavirus vaccine

The Biden administration’s vaccination plan, released in January, included a commitment to providing all people in America the vaccine free of charge and regardless of their immigration status. Still, media reports indicate unauthorized immigrants are having trouble accessing the shots.

Some pharmacies distributing the shots have been asking for social security numbers and insurance information — neither are required to receive a vaccine. And Florida h s needed people to show their state IDs at vaccination clinics. However, according to a state website, “seasonal residents” can instead bring two other types of documents, such as a rental lease agreement or utility bill. Unauthorized immigrants, including college students, could have trouble clearing these obstacles. While students participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields them from deportation, may be eligible to receive Social Security numbers and state IDs, other unauthorized immigrants may not be.

The Universi of Central Florida. Unauthorized students make up around 2% of college enrollment. According to a report last year from New American Economic and the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, about half of that share participate in or are eligible for DACA.   A spokesperson said that at a Miami Dade College in Florida vaccination site, students could show a state driver’s license or another form of identification plus a utility bill.

Which has an on-campus vaccination clinic aand accepts student IDs as proof of residency, a spokesperson said in an email, noting that the school isn’t aware of any DACA students having trouble accessing the vaccine.  “We have no control over state or federal vaccination sites; however, we are aware that local vaccination clinics are accepting forms other than a driver’s license as proof of residency, and we’ve shared that information with our community,” the spokesperson wrote.

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