San Diego County has changed its public COVID-19 vaccination policy to indicate that its vaccination clinics will accept a wide range of documents to verify identity after a new source the investigation found that health staff turned away people who wanted to be vaccinated but could not provide photo ID.
In April, new source reported that a North San Diego County Latino immigrant advocacy group, Universidad Popular, saw community members being denied vaccinations because they were unable to provide a room photo ID. At the time, county public literature stated that people wishing to be vaccinated were required to present photo identification.
why it matters
Advocates say county photo ID requirements have made it harder to vaccinate undocumented immigrants in communities where vaccination rates are already low.
Proponents feared that this requirement would discourage people living in the United States without permission from getting vaccinated.
Officials said new source that county policy was to work with people seeking vaccines without photo ID to verify their identity. However, emails obtained by new source showed some confusion among county health care personnel about the type of documentation needed to receive a vaccine.
The emails suggested that staff had referred people who did not provide photo ID to vaccination clinics.
Ask by new source how many people were turned away for not having photo ID, a county spokesperson could not provide an answer. Officials are not tracking these cases, he said.
The county maintains that its internal policy has always been to accept a wide range of IDs, but recently changed the policy on its website to reflect that.
The website now states that at vaccination clinics, adults “must provide photo ID (other ID verification methods accepted) AND proof of age (something that shows date of birth) .”
Depending on the county, acceptable forms of identification in cases where someone cannot provide photo ID include:
- Driving license from a foreign country
- Consular card
- Report card
- Utility or phone bill
- Confirmation from a family member or employer who has photo ID
- Previous entry in San Diego County Vaccine Registry
Nora Vargas, who co-chairs the San Diego County Board of Supervisors’ COVID-19 subcommittee tasked with helping the county’s response to the pandemic, said she was “baffled” by from inewsource reports.
Vargas, District 1 supervisor, said part of his mission on the committee since joining has been to ensure equitable access to vaccines.
“It’s not supposed to happen. There are not supposed to be any obstacles for our communities,” Vargas said.
Vargas said she followed her team to share reports and ensure all county health care personnel were properly trained and briefed on the types of documents acceptable to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The supervisor pointed out that some type of document confirming identity is important for the purposes of maintaining medical records.
Lilian Serrano, co-director of the Universidad Popular, said after new sourceThe county’s investigation was released, the county supervisor’s office for his district contacted to say he was “directing county staff to make the necessary changes.”
Health staff at vaccination clinics in his area “have been much more willing to work with community members who don’t have ID,” Serrano said in a text.
Vargas said “human error” can sometimes lead to someone being wrongfully turned away, but his office is available to ensure access to vaccines for everyone in the county.
“If someone is turned away, something happens, let them call my office, call 211, and we’ll make it happen,” Vargas said.
Vargas encouraged anyone who is denied a vaccine at a county clinic to call his office at 619-531-5511.
News: based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the journalist, or reported and verified by knowledgeable sources.