COVID Vaccines Q&A for Immigrants

Millions of New Yorkers have already received the COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, New York has begun the process of a full reopening, which is expected to be complete by July 1. However, that depends on getting the rest of the City vaccinated, including populations that may be skeptical for a variety of reasons.

Here we address some of the most common concerns about COVID vaccines, hoping to clarify and reassure those who are still hesitant about getting it.

Q: Should I trust the COVID vaccines? How do I know that they work?

A: The COVID-19 vaccine prevents severe illness and death from COVID, over 6 million people in NYC alone have gotten it and they are doing well. We know that they're lifesaving.

Q: Do the vaccines cause infertility, HIV, or other illnesses?

A: Vaccines do not cause any illness, such as HIV, nor do they prevent you from having children. People who are trying to become pregnant now or who plan to try in the future can and should get vaccinated.

Q: Should I be worried about side effects from the vaccine?

A: Many people have reported flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, and body aches after receiving the second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. However, these symptoms generally last only one or two days, and do not cause complications or prompt hospital visits.

Q: Should I be concerned about receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

A: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective. There were a small number of cases of a very rare type of blood clot (15 out of nearly 8 million doses), but experts determined the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. Regardless, you can choose which vaccine to get.

Q: Why do I need two doses of Moderna/Pfizer and one dose of J&J?

A: The second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines strengthens the immunity you get after the first dose.

Q: Do I need an ID to get a vaccine?

A: You don’t need one! You just need something that shows your age and that you live in New York, or that you work/study here. You don’t need to provide proof of immigration status or a social security number to get vaccinated. Please contact us for more information.

Q: Do I need to be a citizen or have a green card to get the vaccine? What if I’m undocumented?

A: Any New Yorker can get the vaccine, regardless of immigration status, including undocumented immigrants. Proof of citizenship is not required. Language interpreters are present at most vaccine sites for people who speak languages other than English.

Q: Will I be considered a “public charge” by getting the vaccine?

A: No, getting the COVID vaccine will not make you a public charge and will not prevent you from obtaining citizenship or a green card. Similarly, if you receive public benefits mentioned in the now-expired Public Charge rule, you are still eligible to receive a vaccine.

Q: Will there be any immigration or law enforcement at my vaccine appointment, such as the NYPD or ICE?

A: None at all. There may be volunteers and staff from the NYC Department of Health to ensure that face coverings are worn and physical distancing is practiced.

Q: Can my children get vaccinated?

A: Currently, all New Yorkers ages 16 and up can get the Moderna, Pfizer, and J&J vaccine, no appointment needed. 12-year-olds can now also get the Pfizer vaccine. Vaccines are not yet available to children under 12.