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To address vaccine inequities, many states dropping vaccine residency requirements

vax residency
Posted at 11:11 AM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 11:11:56-04

From the early days of the pandemic, it was Latino Americans like Maria Carolina being hit the hardest. The 34-year-old woman is a migrant farmworker in South Florida who is currently undocumented.

With no proof of residency, it was impossible for Carolina and countless other migrant farmworkers to get vaccinated.

"My fear is that I’m going to get sick knowing I have to work in the fields," she said during an interview back in March.

However, due to the efforts of people like Mariana Blanco, that's slowly changing.

Blanco works for the Mayan-Guatemalan Center, a non-profit in Florida that has lobbied lawmakers hard to drop those vaccine residency restrictions, meaning a person doesn’t need to provide any proof of residency in order to get the vaccine.

"This is a public health issue, and I think for a very long time it’s been treated as an immigration issue," Blanco said.

Florida has now dropped their vaccine residency requirements altogether. There are an estimated 24 other states which have done the same, including California, Arizona, Montana, Colorado, Texas and Ohio.

As demand for vaccines decreases, more states are expected to loosen their residency requirements.

Dr. William Schaffner, who serves as one of the nation's most prominent infectious disease experts, says removing any kind of barriers will only increase inoculation rates nationwide.

"We were concerned from the beginning about equity. Wherever you come from, we just want to get as many people who are here in the United States vaccinated," Schaffner said.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering