Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has demanded that federal health officials not share the personal information of illegal immigrants with immigration officials so as to not discourage them from getting the coronavirus vaccine.
In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Cuomo and a coalition of other groups say that the government’s current plan to vaccine Americans neglects “historically underserved” communities, and that the program’s collection of personal information could discourage undocumented immigrants from taking the vaccine.
The communities hit hardest by COVID can’t be the last to get a vaccine.
It would be unfair & discriminatory.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) December 1, 2020
The federal program requires states to collect and share the personal information of people who receive the vaccine, which includes Social Security numbers, driver’s license identification numbers, or passports. As part of a Data Sharing Agreement, the information could be given to federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“This provision obviously raises concerns, as the proposed criteria are all proxies for proof of citizenship,” the letter says. “If undocumented Americans are dissuaded from participating in the vaccination program, it would jeopardize both their health and the efficacy of the entire vaccination program.”
The letter suggests modifications be made to the program, including allowing New York to track those who are vaccinated but not share personal information with the federal government.
It also demands the federal government agree to keep identification information private and not share it with non-health agencies.
“The undocumented community has specific and valid cause for concern in providing unnecessary, irrelevant, and sensitive information to federal agencies,” the letter adds.
States are preparing to receive vaccines as early as Dec. 11, the day after a meeting focusing on the authorization of the Pfizer vaccine. States have until Dec. 4 to request the number of doses of the Pfizer vaccine that they’ll need for residents, according to CNN. (RELATED: North Carolina Slated To Receive 85,000 Doses Of Pfizer Vaccine, Governor Says)