Colorado’s public health department sent notices Sunday to hundreds of providers directing them not to require government IDs or other documentation for people getting inoculated against the coronavirus.
The directive is aimed at ensuring noncitizens and others who might not have an ID are included in the vaccination drive. Ignoring it could cause medical facilities and local health agencies to lose access to vaccines, Scott Bookman, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s COVID-19 incident commander, warned in the letter to the state’s 459 providers.
“Whether you are a U.S. citizen or not, we are all in this together. If you would like a vaccine, you will be able to get one according to what vaccine phase you are in,” Bookman wrote in the letter.
Bookman said requiring IDs could also be a barrier for people experiencing homelessness, who have a disability or are on the margins of society and unable to get an ID.
Health care providers are now authorized to vaccinate members of the general public 70 and older. They can ask a person’s name, date of birth and address, but officials recommend they operate on an “honor system” with regard to people’s ages rather than asking to see an ID.
In neighboring Nebraska, Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts announced earlier this month that people living in the U.S. illegally will be moved to the back of the vaccine line.
“Nebraska is going to prioritize citizens and legal residents ahead of illegal immigrants,” Ricketts’ spokesman wrote on Twitter.
Colorado’s goal is to give vaccines to 70% of residents 70 and older by the end of February.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Friday said the Trump administration showed “gross incompetence” when it provided false information about the existence of a federal vaccine reserve that led officials to believe it would receive more than 200,000 doses next week. He said the state later found out it would get just 79,000.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death .