San Diego County has changed its COVID-19 vaccination policy for the public to state that its vaccination clinics will accept a wide range of documents to verify identity after an inewsource investigation found staff Health had turned away people who wanted a vaccine but could not provide photo ID.
In April, inewsource reported that a Latino immigrant rights group in northern San Diego County, people’s university, saw community members being denied vaccinations because they were unable to provide photo ID. At the time, county public literature stated that people wishing to be vaccinated were required to present photo identification.
Proponents feared the requirement would discourage people living in the United States without permission from getting vaccinated.
Officials told inewsource that county policy was to work with people seeking vaccines without photo ID to verify their identity. However, emails obtained by inewsource showed some confusion among county health care personnel about the type of documentation needed to receive a vaccine.
The emails suggested that staff turned away people who did not provide photo ID at vaccination clinics.
Asked by inewsource how many people were turned away for not having photo ID, a county spokesperson could not provide an answer. Officials are not tracking these cases, he said.
The county maintains that its internal policy has always been to accept a wide range of IDs, but recently changed the policy on its website to reflect that.
The website now reads that, at vaccination clinics, adults “must provide photo ID (other ID verification methods accepted) AND proof of age (something that shows date of birth).”
Depending on the county, acceptable forms of identification in cases where someone cannot provide photo ID include:
- Driving license from a foreign country
- Consular card
- Report card
- Utility or phone bill
- Confirmation from a family member or employer who has photo ID
- Previous entry in San Diego County Vaccine Registry
Nora Vargas, who co-chairs the San Diego County Board of Supervisors’ COVID-19 subcommittee tasked with helping the county’s response to the pandemic, said she was “baffled” by reports of newsource.
Vargas said part of his mission on the committee since joining has been to ensure equitable access to vaccines.
“It’s not supposed to happen. There are not supposed to be any obstacles for our communities,” Vargas said.
Vargas, District 1 Supervisor, said she followed up with her team to share reports and ensure all county health care personnel are properly trained and briefed on the types of documents acceptable to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 19.
The supervisor pointed out that some type of document confirming identity is important for medical record keeping purposes.
Lilian Serrano, co-director of Universidad Popular, said that after the inewsource investigation was published, her district’s county supervisor’s office contacted them to say they were “directing county staff to bring necessary changes”.
Health staff at vaccination clinics in his area “have been much more willing to work with community members who don’t have ID,” Serrano said in a text.
Vargas said “human error” can sometimes lead to someone being wrongfully turned away, but his office is available to ensure access to vaccines for everyone in the county.
“If someone is turned away, something happens, let them call my office, call 211, and we’ll make it happen,” Vargas said.
Vargas encouraged anyone who is denied a vaccine at a county clinic to call his office at 619-531-5511.