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COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Immigrants

Why should you get the vaccine?

  • The vaccination will prevent you from getting COVID-19. Not only do you keep yourself safe and healthy by getting vaccinated, you also prevent the spread of the virus to others, keeping your friends, family, and community safe. 

  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. None of the COVID-19 vaccines can make you sick with COVID-19, neither will they give you any harmful long-term side effects. The vaccines are also effective against new COVID-19 variants. Hundreds of millions of Americans have been vaccinated as of mid-2021, saving millions of lives.

  • COVID-19 vaccinations are the most important tool to end the pandemic and return to normal. Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will make your immune system ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

  • After you are fully vaccinated, you may be able to start doing many things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic. For example, you can work and see family safely, you no longer have to wear a face covering in many settings, and you can travel to visit your home country.

  • More information


Why it is safe for immigrants to get the vaccines

  • Access:

    • The vaccine is FREE of cost, and you do not need health insurance to receive the vaccine. Note that you may be asked if you have health insurance to help pay for administrative costs.

    • All Americans (12+), including immigrants and undocumented immigrants can receive the vaccine

      • You don’t need to provide a Social Security Number or proof immigration status.

      • Your vaccination provider may ask for some form of documentation, like an ID (see below).

  • Impacts on immigration status:

    • ICE will not come to vaccination sites.

    • Your privacy and confidentiality are guaranteed. 

    • The CDC and local governments have agreed that data provided by individuals may not be used for any civil or criminal prosecution or immigration enforcement.

  • Getting the vaccine will not impact your ability to become a US citizen

    • The Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule is no longer in effect, so an immigrant’s reliance on health resources and other public resources will not negatively affect their potential to get a Green Card/citizenship

  • More resources here and here.

How to Get the Vaccine

All individuals 12 years of age and older that reside in the United States are eligible to receive the vaccine. People who are 12 to 17 years old can only receive the Pfizer vaccine. 


To get your vaccine, you can either go to a walk-up vaccination site or make an appointment. For either option, visit the NYC Vaccine Finder website or call 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692).

Documentation to bring to your vaccination

  • The only documentation you must bring to your appointment is proof of age

  • Proof you are 12 or older may include:

    • Driver's license or non-driver ID

    • IDNYC (good option for undocumented immigrants)

    • State or government-issued birth certificate

    • Current U.S. passport or valid foreign passport

    • Permanent resident card

    • Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship

    • Life insurance policy with birthdate

    • Marriage certificate with birthdate

    • For people younger than 18, a parent or guardian can accompany them to the vaccination site to attest to their age

  • Remember, you will not need to provide proof of immigration status or a social security number, and your privacy and confidentiality will be protected.

  • More information

Post-vaccine guidance

  • Second dose:

    • The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. You should schedule your second dose 21 days (Pfizer) or 28 days (Moderna) after the first dose. If you are unable to do so, get your second dose within 42 days after the first dose. Get the second dose no matter how much time has passed.

    • Make sure you bring your vaccination card to your second dose appointment.

  • Side effects:

    • Be prepared for side effects for a few days

      • Arm soreness, headache, body aches, tiredness, and fever

    • Taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines, can help relieve any pain and discomfort you may experience after getting vaccinated.

    • It is not recommended you take these medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects.

    • Side effects after your second shot may be more intense than the ones you experienced after your first shot. These side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection and should go away within a few days.

    • Contact your doctor or healthcare provider:

      • If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours

      • If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days.

      • Call 911 if you think you are having an allergic reaction

    • More information

  • Post-vaccine abilities:

    • You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose (or two weeks after your first/only dose for J&J)

    • If you’ve been fully vaccinated:

      • You can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.

      • You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

    • Per CDC and NYS guidelines fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear their masks except in certain settings.

      • Vaccinated and unvaccinated people must keep their masks on: 

        • In schools 

        • Public transportation like the subway 

        • Health care settings like hospitals 

        • Congregate settings like nursing homes

      • Read more about how to assess risk when you're going mask-free.

    • If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.

    • More information

FAQs and clearing misinformation

Q: Can the vaccines give me COVID-19? 

A: None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently used or in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.


Q: Will the vaccine affect my DNA? 

A: The vaccines work to teach your cells to attack the virus. Some of these new vaccine techniques may seem scary, but the vaccines do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. The mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is kept. 


Q: Can I still get COVID-19 after I get the vaccine?

A: While current vaccines are shown to be highly effective in preventing people from getting sick from the virus, you can still get COVID-19 and be sick even if you get the vaccine. The vaccines are very effective in reducing the severity of the COVID-19 illness.


Q: I heard a rumor about a microchip. Is there anything to that? 

A: The vaccines only teach your cells to attack the COVID-19 virus, and millions of people around the world have already gotten them. No such technologies are contained in the vaccines.


Q: How were the vaccines developed so quickly? Are COVID-19 vaccines safe? 

A: COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Although COVID-19 is new, medical experts have been working on vaccines to the coronavirus family of viruses for years Before being authorized for use, all COVID-19 vaccines were tested in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people to make sure they met safety standards and protected adults of different ages, races, and ethnicities. And, CDC and the FDA continue to monitor the vaccines to make sure they are safe.


More on FAQs and misinformation here


Further resources: 

CIANA Infographics:

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