JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a new public health advisory, Florida’s surgeon general has ordered state and federal vaccine locations to stop asking people for proof of residency to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
The move clears what public health experts call a barrier keeping undocumented migrants and others from getting a shot.
Starting Friday, all state and federally supported vaccination sites in Florida will instead ask people to confirm they’re either a resident or in the state for work. Specifically, people will be asked “if they are in the state for the purpose of providing goods and services.”
DOCUMENT: View the new public health advisory
Samantha Artiga, director of racial equity and health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation, told News4Jax that requirements to provide proof of residency and identification can deter some migrants from getting a vaccine.
“Providing clear information to help people understand that all individuals are eligible for the vaccine, regardless of immigration status, and that getting the vaccine will not negatively impact someone’s immigration status is really important,” Artiga said.
Mia Jones, chief executive officer for the non-profit health center Agape Family Health, helps with operations of the state-run vaccine clinic on the Edward Waters College campus in Jacksonville.
In a May 19 interview, Jones said during outreach some undocumented migrants said they were hesitant about providing proof of residency at vaccine locations.
“For that group, it was concerns around being a citizen and not knowing if they did that, got a vaccine, if that would get them in trouble,” Jones said.
The changes come as several vaccine sites reported significantly lower number of shots being administered at sites daily.
Kimberly Kipp is the FEMA liaison for Jacksonville’s federally supported vaccine site.
“Our capacity for Johnson and Johnson and second doses of Pfizer are 3,000 per day. That has not changed,” Kipp said Friday. “The volume of people coming in to get vaccinated — we haven’t been close to that.”
When the state on April 5 expanded vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 years of age and older, nearly 4,300 people in Duval County got their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. That’s compared to Monday when roughly 1,300 people got their first dose of the shot.
The advisory issued by Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees also recommended that government officers resume conducting business in person. It said those who have been vaccinated no longer need to wear face masks, going further than what the CDC has recommended.