While frustrated Americans across the country struggle to get their government-funded COVID-19 vaccine, a national drug store chain is apologizing for mistakenly denying illegal immigrants the shot. The pharmacy retail giant, Rite Aid, reportedly turned away two women at separate stores in southern California. In one of the cases, the illegal immigrant provided a foreign identification card that is not valid in the U.S. The pharmacist insisted on a social security card, telling the woman that American citizens have priority, according to a local news report. The woman’s son complained about the pharmacist on social media and a local congressman got involved, confirming that there is no legal residence requirement at the federal, state, or local level.
Rite Aid issued an apology, and the illegal aliens were invited back to get the shot, according to various news reports. The retail company claims the women were “mistakenly” denied the vaccine. A spokesman for the pharmacy chain describes the cases as isolated incidents and promises that the employees will be re-educated on the protocols. “This is very important to us that this is corrected,” the Rite Aid spokesman says in one of the articles. “Both of the situations that we’re talking about have been resolved, and both of those people will be getting their vaccine at Rite Aid.” The retailer assures in another news story that its teams have been retrained regarding its policy of not turning anyone away for the vaccine. “In a case where a customer does not have identification, we advise our associates not to turn the customer away,” Rite Aid now says.
The incident comes on the heels of a public university’s apology to the illegal immigrant community for turning away two people who wanted COVID-19 vaccinations over their legal status. In a statement posted on social media last month, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley writes that it “apologizes to those patients who were affected” and admits it did not follow the most current State of Texas guidelines that all eligible patients, despite their place of residence, be administered a COVID-19 vaccine. The taxpayer-funded university also writes that it is reaching out to the illegal aliens to provide them with “an appointment at their earliest convenience.” The campus with an enrollment of about 30,000 sits in a region near the Mexican border that is known to have a large illegal immigrant population. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley health system assures on its website that “no one will be denied a vaccine by UT Health RGV based on residency or immigration status.”
In the meantime, Americans across the U.S. scramble to get the shot and are forced to deal with a multitude of obstacles including inefficient web sites to get appointments for inoculation and rollout shortages. In Illinois, a major pharmacy chain administering the shots is experiencing problems with the sign-up process and shows no availability for first-dose appointments on its company website. In Philadelphia more than 11,000 first-dose vaccine appointments were cancelled and the city might eliminate tens of thousands more in the coming weeks over violations of the digital scheduling system. New Hampshire’s vaccine registration system is a disaster and cannot keep up with the demand as angry residents vent in local media. In Wisconsin residents are having difficulty getting their second dose. Similar stories are circulating in cities across the nation. Last month Judicial Watch reported that Virginia shifted its vaccination distribution to prioritize black and Latino residents as desperate 85-year-olds struggle to get the shot. Nevertheless, the U.S. vaccinates an average of 2.5 million people a day, according to government figures published in a mainstream newspaper.
The vaccines were created as part of a Trump administration initiative called Operation Warp Speed to accelerate the development, production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and deliver 300 million doses. The U.S. reportedly invested $18 billion on the project which involves several key government agencies—such as the Department of Defense (DOD), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—and private companies. Operation Warp Speed vaccine investments include $2.5 billion to Moderna, $2 billion to Sanofi, $1.95 billion to Pfizer, $1.6 billion to Novavax, $1.5 billion to Johnson & Johnson and $1.2 billion to AztraZeneca. President Joe Biden said in a recent interview with a Spanish language media outlet that he will make sure illegal immigrants have access to the COVID-19 vaccine without fear of deportation.