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

Last updated August 9, 2021

Everyone 12 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 12 years of age or older can get vaccinated anywhere in the U.S.
    • The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for people 12 years of age or older. The Moderna vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are approved for people 18 years of age or older. As time goes on, more vaccines may be approved for different age groups.
  • 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, including the new Delta variant. 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.