Surgeon general: Immigration status should not be barrier to receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Surgeon general: Immigration status should not be barrier to receiving COVID-19 vaccine
© Greg Nash

Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsFormer surgeon general: 'Unconscionable' for states to ban mask mandates Former Trump surgeon general says politicians are 'taking tools' away from public health offices Pence urges young conservatives to get COVID-19 vaccine MORE encouraged undocumented immigrants across the U.S. to get vaccinated for COVID-19 when shots become available, saying during an interview on Sunday that it is a public health priority to see as many people vaccinated as possible.

Speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation," the nation's top doctor said that a person's immigration status should not serve as a barrier between them and a COVID-19 vaccine.

"No one should be denied a shot in the arm due to their documentation status," said Adams.

He went on to note that he had been assured by federal officials that medical information gathered during the course of administering a COVID-19 vaccine "will not be used in any way shape or form to hurt you legally," and could not be used in immigration proceedings against those who participate.

His remarks appear to be in line with the view shared by President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE, who said in August that undocumented immigrants should have free access to both the vaccine and COVID-19 testing.

“Every person in the country, whether they’re documented or undocumented, should have access to a vaccine, if and when it occurs, should have access to testing and treatment and hospitalization if it relates to the virus," he told reporters at the time, adding: "And that should occur, period. It’s in the interest of everyone that everyone be taken care of, and everyone should be able to be eligible for that.”

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged states to vaccinate front-line health care workers and people in high-risk categories first; the general U.S. population is expected to see widespread access to the vaccine in the spring.