NYC immigrants fear getting vaccine may mean personal info will be shared with federal agencies

People cross the street on May 19, 2020 in the Jamaica neighborhood in the Queens borough in New York City.
Photo credit Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Some New York City lawmakers are questioning the federal government’s requirement that states share the personal information of those who get a COVID vaccine, with immigrants fearing the info will be shared with agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

While the COVID vaccine news has been promising, Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng is worried about a policy called the data use agreement, which requires states to collect personal identification info from those who get the vaccine and then pass that data off to the federal Department of Health, which can then share the info with other government agencies.

“Such as Social Security numbers, passport numbers or driver license numbers,” Meng said.

Meng represents an area with a disproportionate number of essential workers, many of them immigrants.

“They don’t want to get the vaccine. They are very scared of potentially having to get their personal information shared with other agencies,” Meng said, adding that there’s fear people’s immigration statuses could get into the wrong hands like ICE or the Department of Homeland Security.

“They don’t want to have to choose between life or death and their immigration status,” Meng said.

In a letter to HHS and the CDC, Meng said the policy could dangerously undermine the vaccination process and should be reversed.

“We want to also make sure that federal agencies that don't have any relation to health issues, that they are prohibited from accessing this identification information,” Meng said. “If the goal really is to save lives and to protect the health of the American people, that should be the top priority and nothing should get in the way of that.”