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Rite Aid says they ‘made a mistake’ after employee turned undocumented immigrant away from getting Covid-19 vaccine

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On Saturday, the trio showed up for their dates at a Rite Aid in Mission Hills, California, a suburb on the outskirts of Los Angeles, but Sebastian’s mother, Graciela, 55, was removed when she could not provide a ID. or a social security number because she is an undocumented immigrant, she told CNN. Graciela provided a Consular Registration, the consular identification of Mexico, but it was not enough, Araujo said.

“In such an unprecedented deployment, there will be opportunities to improve and we are looking for those opportunities every day,” Chris Savarese, director of public relations for Rite Aid, told CNN on Tuesday. “In this case, we made a mistake.”

“When a client arrives at their appointment with the vaccine, we ask for an ID to confirm the client’s appointment,” Savarese said. “In the event that a customer does not have any identification, we advise our associates not to do so.”

Rite Aid website says, regardless of insurance or Medicare status, they require you to bring photo ID to expedite the appointment. He also says “they won’t take you away if you don’t have a photo ID or insurance.”
“I’m very, very worried,” said Dr. Ranit Mishori, senior medical adviser to Doctors for Human Rights. he told CNN in December. “If we are a country to achieve the immunity of the herd, that means the citizens who live among us must be vaccinated.”

Many undocumented immigrants live in communities where the coronavirus has already suffered a disproportionate blow, and many have a higher risk of exposure because they are essential front-line workers, Mishori said.

Graciela and Alfredo Araujo work in a flea market in San Clarita, but were unemployed from December to March. The pandemic has affected the family financially. Luckily, Sebastian said his two older brothers have been helping their parents and Graciela’s second job cleaning houses has brought them this far. Getting the Covid-19 vaccine would provide the family with some peace of mind as they try to make a living, Sebastian said.

Defenders say some immigrants are skeptical of any government-led vaccination effort after years of being targeted during the Trump administration, although Sebastian said for his family that it was quite the opposite, knowing that there was nothing to would say they could not be vaccinated because of their immigration status.

Sebastian, 20, was vaccinated in January and soon qualified for the work he does with the community. His father, Alfredo, 60, got the vaccine after showing the pharmacist his California ID, Sebastian said.

“Honestly, this policy is xenophobic,” he said. “Maybe they just weren’t aware of it, but I think they should know that not everyone has a social security number and not everyone has health insurance. All they needed was to literally identify the person, that’s all they needed … they don’t need a social security number to track a person. ”

Sebastian stayed with his mother because he said he couldn’t stop crying about what had happened.

“My mom was very angry because the pharmacy technology said you wouldn’t get vaccinated in front of almost everyone and that people would just listen,” Sebastian said.

But, mistakenly or not, Sebastian said his family’s experience on Saturday was stressful and created anxiety for the family.

“It sucks that we still have this mindset that, oh, because you’re not within those set limits, you don’t deserve this vaccine, a vaccine against Covid.”

After Rite Aid contacted Sebastian and his family on Tuesday evening to apologize and reschedule his mother’s first date, the family went to another Rite Aid location where Graciela was successfully vaccinated.

“We accepted his apologies, but we didn’t just sit back and watch the disparities continue to happen,” he said. “My mom and I will keep talking about this.”

Savarese said Rite Aid requests an online ID when an appointment is made with the vaccine, but does not turn people away if it cannot provide it.

“This had nothing to do with immigration, but rather with confusion,” Savarese said.

But what happened to Graciela is not unique, Sebastian said.

“We have received a lot of messages from people who have had the same experience with other pharmacies and other states,” he wrote in a Instagram post Tuesday. “It is clear that our country is doing the minimum necessary to protect immigrants during this pandemic.”

Sebastian said he is open to working with politicians to make sure this does not happen to any other undocumented immigrant.

“It’s happening in Texas, Kentucky and Los Angeles, a place where I didn’t think it would happen,” he said. “Hopefully there can be some kind of bill or something in general, because I think people are getting away with it.”

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