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'Should not have happened': UT Health RGV apologizes for denying COVID-19 vaccine to people over proof of residency

4 months 14 hours 2 minutes ago Monday, February 22 2021 Feb 22, 2021 February 22, 2021 10:51 PM February 22, 2021 in News - Local

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has apologized for turning away three people from getting their COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday. 

The people were denied a dose for not having the proper documents, even though the state guidelines do not require a proof of residency.

San Juan resident Abraham Diaz said his 60-year-old father, Jesus Diaz, was one of those people that were turned away at the UT Health clinic. 

At first, Diaz said he was relieved that his father was finally going to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

"He didn't think about it twice," Diaz said. "He said he wanted to get vaccinated."

Diaz said he helped his father register for the vaccine, but after waiting for two months and then four hours in line on Saturday, he was given the bad news.

Jesus was told the vaccine was only for U.S. citizens and legal residents, and because he lacks a social security number, staff at the clinic denied him of a vaccine. 

Diaz took to Twitter explaining the situation and the university responded. 

"I'd like to apologize to them," said Dr. John Krause, Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine. “I think this is something that should not have happened. We always strive to treat everyone with the utmost respect."

UTRGV said it was following guidelines from the Texas Department of State Health Services, however, the state guidelines say there is no residency requirement to receive the vaccine, no matter what county a person comes from. 

"This disease doesn't discriminate against immigration status," Diaz said. "And those who currently have conditions are the most vulnerable."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hispanic and Black people are at a higher risk of dying from the coronavirus, while a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds there is still skepticism within these communities about getting the vaccine. 

If you were denied a COVID-19 vaccine at UTRGV because you had to prove your residency, email the university at covidvaccine@utrgv.edu.

 

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