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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.
Three types of vaccines are administered in New York. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will require two doses, usually scheduled 21-28 days apart. The Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine requires only one dose. All three 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?
In June 22nd, 2022, following the recommendation from the CDC and FDA, New York City green-lighted the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for toddlers who are 6 months old and younger than 5 years. 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.
On November 3rd, 2021, all who live in New York and in the United States over the age of 5 were eligible to receive the vaccine. Regardless if they have health insurance, a legal immigration status, or if they are not at risk for other comorbidities.
Foreign tourists visiting one of the five boroughs in NYC can also receive the J&J vaccine, without the need to show proof of residency.
Note: All children ages 5-11 and youth ages 12-17 are only eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.’
What about the booster shot?
Vaccine boosters are recommended for everyone 5 and older. These shots increase your immunity from an initial vaccination series. More information.
If you are 18 years and older and received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna initial vaccine series at least six months ago or the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago, you are eligible for your COVID-19 booster dose. Boosters can help provide additional protection, especially for those over the age of 50 and others with underlying conditions.
Note: you will need to know the date of when you receive your second dose of the vaccine.
Does this information apply to the 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 valid ID
Step 1: Eligibility and proof of age
When the first months of vaccination began, eligibility for vaccination was strict. But now the only requirement is 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, 12 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.
- Turbovax combines the appointments available from multiple sign-up sites.
- 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