Your help lets us keep reporting on immigrant communities. Become a member today.
To read all the articles with important information for immigrants in NY, please read our Guide of Resources
Here is a list of what we know about how to get the vaccine for immigrant New Yorkers. For the most up-to-date information, visit the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website.
Ever since the COVID-19 vaccines became available in, we have received multiple questions in our WhatsApp community about eligibility, places to get it, if it’s available to all immigrants, and what the requirements are. Here is a walkthrough about the process for scheduling and getting the vaccine.
Four types of vaccines are administered in New York: Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, and Johnson and Johnson (J&J).
- Pfizer is available to individuals ages 6 months and older. This vaccine requires two doses for individuals ages 5 and older, with the second dose administered 21 days (3 weeks) after the first dose. Children under 5 years old receive three doses, with a second dose administered 21 days after the first dose, and a third dose administered 56 days (8 weeks) after the second.
- Moderna is available to individuals ages 6 months and older. This vaccine requires two doses administered 28 days (4 weeks) apart.
- Novavax is available to individuals ages 12 and older. This vaccine requires two doses administered 21 days (3 weeks) apart.
- The Johnson and Johnson vaccine requires only one dose. The CDC only recommends this vaccine in certain circumstances due to risk of medical complications.
All four vaccines provide protection against the coronavirus, and one is no better than the other.
While there has been misinformation on social media, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and health experts have confirmed that the vaccines are safe. The vaccine has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after undergoing rigorous studies and meeting safety criteria.
The latest: who is eligible?
All individuals aged 6 months and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. To find and schedule a vaccine, visit NYC’s Vaccine Finder (https://vaccinefinder.nyc.gov) and choose Moderna and Pfizer from the drop-down menu to see the locations offering the vaccine near you.
Screen capture from NYC Vaccine Finder Page. Accessed October 4, 2022
As of October 2022, all individuals who live in New York and in the United States ages 6 months and older are eligible to receive the vaccine at no cost, regardless of health insurance or immigration status.
Tourists visiting one of the five boroughs in NYC can also receive the vaccines.
What about the booster shot?
Vaccine boosters are recommended for everyone ages 5 and older. These shots increase your immunity from an initial vaccination series and provide additional protection, especially for those over the age of 50 and others with underlying conditions.
As of September 9th, bivalent boosters are available for all New Yorkers ages 12 and up whose last COVID-19 vaccination was more than two months ago. The updated boosters are more effective at protecting against the latest variants, including Omicron. More information.
Children under the age of 5 should receive the same type of vaccine for all doses and boosters.
Note: you will need to know the date of when you received your second dose of the vaccine.
Does this information apply to undocumented immigrants?
Yes. Everything that is included in this guide about the vaccine for immigrants also includes people without legal documentation. You only need a form of identification that matches the information (name, date of birth) you entered when you made your appointment.
How to make an appointment:
Step 1: Proof of age
These are the documents to prove your age: Driver’s license or non-driver ID, IDNYC (in NYC), Birth certificate issued by a state or local government, Current U.S. passport or valid foreign passport, Permanent residence card, Certificate of naturalization or citizenship, Life insurance policy with date of birth, Marriage certificate with date of birth.
Step 2: Find a location
Find a location near you to schedule an appointment or find walk-in vaccination sites. Using this link, you will be able to locate the centers closest to you based on your zip code. Once you enter your zip code, you can proceed to schedule an appointment with the facility of your choice and they will ask you to fill out a form with your basic information.
(screenshot from actual Rite Aid online scheduler– accessed Feb. 10, 2020)
For people 65 and older and on Medicare, they can also make an appointment with Oak Street Health. They have multiple locations, offer transportation to eligible individuals, and you can search for the one closest to your zip-code. For more information or help, you can call (888) 387-0839
Step 3: Fill out the NYS Vaccine form
Once you have scheduled an appointment, you will need to complete this form. This, once again, will confirm your eligibility. The state requires you to complete it online before receiving the vaccine, but after scheduling your appointment, because the form will ask for the date of the scheduled appointment.
Note: Places that offer walk-in services will also give you the form to fill out.
And voila, once your appointment is scheduled you are ready to get vaccinated.
How much does the vaccine cost?
The vaccine is free for immigrants. The vaccine is free for Americans. The vaccine is free for everyone. Everyone. Some facilities will ask you for an insurance card to cover administration costs, but they shouldn’t turn you away if you do not have insurance.
Additional help for individuals residing in NYC
Individuals who are 65 years of age or older, who have already scheduled an appointment, can request free transportation to and from vaccination sites in NYC. They should call 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-5692 to schedule transportation.
Individuals who have disabilities or are 65 years or older can also schedule free transportation via ambulette or taxi. For ambulette call 516-812-9827, and to schedule a taxi call (including wheelchair accessible) 646-349-0289.
Note: individuals younger than 18 will need a parent to schedule the appointment.
Individuals who are homebound or 65 years of age or older, are also eligible to receive vaccination services at home by scheduling an online or by calling 877-VAX-4NYC (847-829-4692).
Need help getting an appointment? Here are some websites and volunteer groups that can assist
- You can book a vaccine over the phone. New York State’s hotline is 1-833-NYS-4VAX, and it’s available in six languages. New York City’s hotline is 1-877-VAX-4NYC, and it’s available in seven languages.
- EpicenterNYC is helping New Yorkers secure vaccine appointments. You can sign up to get help here.
- EpicenterNYC also made this helpful video about how to get an appointment, and has fliers in a bunch of languages about how to get an appointment.
- Lots of local mutual aid groups are helping neighbors get appointments.
Read this article in Spanish here