Information about the COVID-19 vaccine for asylum seekers in the United States

Last updated December 2, 2021

Everyone 5 years of age or older in the United States can now receive a vaccine to protect themselves against COVID-19, or the coronavirus. The COVID-19 vaccine is free, effective, and available to people in the United States regardless of their immigration status! We know there are myths and incorrect information being shared about the vaccine. Here are a few facts and reliable resources.

Who can receive the vaccine? 

  • Everyone 5 years of age or older can get vaccinated anywhere in the U.S.
    • The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for people 5 years of age or older. The Moderna vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are approved for people 18 years of age or older.
    • Currently, the vaccine is not available to children under 4 years old. As time goes on, more vaccines may be approved for different age groups.
    • For more information about COVID-19 vaccines for children and teenagers, visit this website.
  • If you are 18 years of age or older and you have already received a vaccine, you can now get a booster shot. A booster shot is an additional dose of the vaccine that will help you stay protected over time.
    • If you received the two doses for the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, you can get a booster shot 6 months after receiving your second dose.
    • If you received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you can get a booster shot 2 months afterward.
  • All immigrants in the United States can get the vaccine, whether or not you have legal status.
  • It is free to get the vaccine, whether or not you have health insurance. Some vaccine sites may ask you for your health insurance information for the purpose of collecting data. However, you do not need to provide it, and you can get the vaccine for free even if you do not have health insurance.
  • You can use this website to find a vaccine site near you. You can also text your zip code to GETVAX and you will get a message back with some vaccine sites near you.

Why should I get vaccinated?

  • Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are very good at preventing people from getting COVID-19. Some vaccinated people still get COVID-19, but you are much less likely to get COVID-19 if you are vaccinated.
  • If you do get COVID-19, getting the vaccine can prevent you from getting very sick or dying. The vast majority of patients who are in the hospital with COVID-19 are people who did not get the vaccine.
  • Getting the vaccine can also help you protect other people around you who could get very sick or die from COVID-19.
  • The vaccine also protects children over the age of 5. Children can become sick from COVID-19 and can also spread the virus to others.
  • Getting a booster shot helps you stay protected from COVID-19, because protection from vaccines becomes less effective over time.
  • There is a new variant of the COVID-19 virus, called “Omicron.” The vaccine will likely help protect against Omicron as well, although scientists are not yet sure how effective it will be. We will know more in the coming weeks.
  • Some states are offering financial incentives, like gift cards and scholarships, to encourage people to get vaccinated. To learn about some of the incentives in your state, visit this website.
  • To read more about the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine, visit this website.

Do I have to give proof of my immigration status to get the vaccine?

  • No. You are not required to show proof of immigration status to get the vaccine.
  • You may be asked to give a social security number or show ID at your appointment, but you do not need to provide it.
  • If you do have an ID, you should bring it with you when you get vaccinated.

Will getting a COVID-19 vaccine affect my immigration case?

  • No. Getting the vaccine will not affect your U.S. immigration case.
  • Your information should be kept confidential. Vaccine providers cannot share your personal information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • ICE has ​stated​ that they will not be present at or near vaccine facilities.
  • If you are applying for lawful permanent resident status (a green card) on October 1, 2021 or later, you will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine. There are some limited exceptions to this, and it does not affect people who are still in the process of seeking asylum. Read more here.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

  • Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, including for children 5 years of age or older.
  • None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, so a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 vaccines do not change your DNA.
  • There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines would cause problems with becoming pregnant, now or in the future.
  • It is normal to have some side effects such as tiredness, headache, fever, and chills after being vaccinated. These are signs that your body is building protection and they should go away after a few days. Depending on your employer and where you live, you may be eligible for paid time off from work to get the COVID-19 vaccine as well as recover from any side effects.
  • If you have any concerns about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, and especially if you have questions about how the vaccine may interact with any medical conditions that you have, you can always talk to a doctor that you trust. If you need to find a doctor in your area, you can look for health clinics here or here.
  • You can also talk to the person administering your vaccine. They are there to help!
  • You can find more information here and here.

When does the vaccine start working?

  • People are considered protected from COVID-19 two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or the Moderna vaccine. For the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, protection starts after two weeks after the single dose and gets stronger after four weeks.
  • When you get vaccinated, you will receive a paper vaccine card. You should keep this card to prove you were vaccinated.

Here are some other resources that may be helpful:

For more information and resources from the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) visit our website.