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Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to get the COVID-19 vaccine? What immigrants need to know

Community leaders and officials in North Texas have heard ongoing concerns from the immigrant community on obtaining the vaccine.

DALLAS — Medical experts, the Center for Disease Control and the state of Texas say that all adults, regardless of citizenship status, can get the COVID-19 vaccine. The sooner people who want the vaccine are immunized, the sooner there will be a sense of normalcy.

Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are part of that group. In the United States, more than 40 million individuals were born in another country, according to the Pew Research Center.

“This pandemic doesn’t ask you where you are from or if you are undocumented,” said Commissioner Elba Garcia. 

Community leaders and officials in North Texas have heard ongoing concerns from the immigrant community on obtaining the vaccine.

In the state of Texas, over 6 million individuals have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. At least 6% of those vaccinated are Asian, 7% Black and 23% Hispanic. A breakdown of specific immigrant populations is not readily available.

Francisco de la Torre Galindo, Consul General of Mexico, said many question whether the vaccine is accessible to them and fear obtaining the vaccine could impact their immigration status negatively. 

WFAA looked into what immigrants need to know about getting the vaccine in Texas.

Do I have to be a citizen to get the vaccine in Texas?

No, according to the Texas State Department of State Health Services spokesperson Chris Van Deusen.  

“We want people living and working in Texas to be vaccinated. That's the best way we have to slow the spread of COVID-19 and make sure everyone is protected,” Van Deusen said.  

The Department of Homeland Security released a statement on February 1, 2021 to ease concern in the immigrant community. 

“It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine,” the release reads in part.  

DHS adds that no immigration operations will be conducted at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics.  

You can visit VaccineFinder.org or check your state health department or local pharmacy’s website.

What about the people who were turned away at the Rio Grande Valley?  

A man, who is an immigrant, was turned away at a university vaccine site in South Texas and made national headlines, but that instance went against state guidelines for vaccine requirements. 

UT Rio Grande Valley apologized for the mistake and contacted the people who were turned away to help them reschedule, KHOU reported. 

Verify: There is no citizenship requirement for COVID-19 vaccination in Texas

Eligibility 

All adults in Texas, despite their place of residence, can be eligible for the vaccine starting March 29According to the CDCthe federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.

What information or paperwork do I need to show to get a vaccine?

People can get the vaccine at a large vaccine hub or a local vaccine provider, like a pharmacy. 

If you’re going to a large vaccine hub like at Fair Park in Dallas, each hub’s registration process is different, so look carefully at the hub’s registration site for details, the state health department says.  Do not show up at a vaccine hub without first signing up or checking the provider’s instructions for scheduling. 

Depending on the vaccine provider, you may be placed on a waiting list and/or may be contacted (phone, email, or text) when vaccines become available. 

Most providers ask for contact information like a mailing address, phone number and email address. 

RELATED: Need a COVID-19 vaccine? Here are more than 27 providers in North Texas that will alert you

Must I have health insurance to be vaccinated or is there a cost?

No, and according to the CDC, a COVID-19 vaccination provider cannot charge for the vaccine, this includes any administration fees or copay. 

A provider can seek reimbursement from a private health insurance, Medicare and/or Medicaid.

If an individual does not have insurance the vaccine provider can request reimbursement from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s COVID-19 Uninsured Program.

If I am applying for citizenship or to become a permanent resident will this count as a public charge?

The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement on March 9 indicating it will not consider any medical treatment or preventive services for COVID-19, including vaccines. 

Can someone help me sign up for the vaccine in my native language?

For Spanish, Denton County Public Health has a call center for both English and Spanish speakers at 940-349-258 and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

In Dallas County, a call center has been established to register. Individuals can call 1-855-IMMUNE9 (855-466-8639) in English and Spanish. The call center is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

What else should I know?

The CDC says, COVID-19 vaccination providers cannot: 

  • Charge you for the vaccine 

  • Charge you directly for any administration fees, copays, or coinsurance 

  • Deny vaccination to anyone who does not have health insurance coverage, is underinsured, or is out of network 

  • Charge an office visit or other fee to the recipient if the only service provided is a COVID-19 vaccination 

  • Require additional services in order for a person to receive a COVID-19 vaccine; however, additional healthcare services can be provided at the same time and billed as appropriate 

COVID-19 vaccination providers can: 

Go here for Texas Department of State Health Services info in Spanish.