DSHS: Identification ‘should not be a barrier to getting vaccinated’

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FILE – In this Jan. 18, 2021, file photo, a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 is prepared at a vaccination center of the 3rd district, in Paris. Japan’s COVID-19 vaccinations are beginning Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, after the government granted belated first approval to a shot co-developed by Pfizer Inc. that the United States and many other countries started using two months ago.(AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) – The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) reminds vaccine providers that not having identification should not be a barrier for people trying to get the COVID-19 vaccine.  

As efforts to get as many people vaccinated ramp up, some residents qualified for the vaccine may still be getting turned away.  

On March 29, the state of Texas began to allow all residents over the age of 16 to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  

DSHS told KVEO not being able to provide identification “should not be a barrier to getting vaccinated.”

In a statement DSHS said:

“DSHS does not require state issued identification in order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  Vaccine providers may request identification, if they choose, however DSHS reminds providers that it is possible not all vaccine eligible individuals may have this type of identification and it should not be a barrier to getting vaccinated.” 

As part of the DSHS’s Phase 1 Vaccine Provider Best Practices sheet, they also state that proof of U.S. residency is not required.  

Despite this, an anonymous Rio Grande Valley resident, who we will refer to as Ana, said she was told that she would not be able to get the vaccine unless she was able to prove she lived in Starr County during a vaccine distribution last month.

To get the vaccine as soon as possible, Ana, a Hidalgo County resident who is also pregnant, went to the County Fairgrounds in Rio Grande City on March 29 to get a bracelet for the vaccine distribution on March 30.  

“I needed the vaccine since I’m pregnant; I wanted to have it as fast as possible,” said Ana. 

Once it was her turn in line, Ana was asked to provide her State identification. Ana was given a bracelet for the distribution the next day, but as the provider saw the address on her ID was not in Starr County, she was told to bring proof of residency in the county through a bill or she would not get the vaccine.  

“I went and made line and everything,” said Ana. “[The provider] asked me if I had an ID and when I showed it to her, she said that I had to live in Starr County to be able to have the vaccine.” 

LOOKING FOR A COVID-19 VACCINE CLINIC IN THE RGV? CLICK HERE

Ana, currently 38 weeks pregnant, did not go back to Starr County to try to get the vaccine, she instead got her dose in Hidalgo County when it became available to her.

KVEO spoke to Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, who assured that residents from neighboring counties can get the vaccine at their sites and explained that the reason Ana may have been turned away was that earlier during the day the county tries to give priority to those going for the second vaccine. If Ana were to have gone back later that same day, and vaccines were still available, she would have been accepted, though that information was not relayed to her.  

“I just talked to my staff, and they said that right now it’s open to the public. To whoever wants it,” said Vera. “In fact, she said the last one they had they had people as far as Arkansas, that were winter Texans, that we vaccinated.”

When asked about the flyers being posted on social media stating that people “Must be Starr County resident” to receive the vaccine, Judge Vera said to disregard. 

(Original Starr County flyer posted on county Facebook Page for vaccine distribution)

An updated flyer was posted to their social media reminding residents to bring their vaccine card if they need the second dose instead.  

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