A Texas man on the Covid-19 priority list was denied the vaccine because he did not have a social security number. According to KHOU-11, a 61-year-old man in the Rio Grande Valley was denied the shot because he could not provide a social security number. UT Health Rio Grande Valley told the man that they give the vaccine to “only U.S. citizens or people that have a social security number.”

Subsequently UT Health Rio Grande Valley apologized to those that were declined the vaccine because of a lack of a social security number and gave them new appointments.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has said that there is no citizenship requirement for the Covid-19 vaccine.

City of El Paso Requires Identification Number

According to the City’s pre-registration website, a social security number or driver’s license number is “required” because the City “will seek reimbursement through the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) Non-Insured Program” if the patient is not insured. [accessed on February 25, 2021]

However, after the space to provide the identification number, the website states that if the patient does not have insurance or the social security number or a driver’s license number, the patient “may proceed with registration to receive” the vaccine.

Vaccine Federal Reimbursements

The HRSA is a federal program that reimburses medical providers for testing services for Covid-19 and administering the vaccine. Funding for the program was included in several recent legislations like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), The Healthcare Enhancement Act and the Corona Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

HRSA uses the social security number as a patient identifier to determine whether the patient is covered by medical insurance. Although not required for reimbursement, the social security number expedites the verification. HRSA only reimburses for medical services for patients that are not insured.

Texas and Feds Say Social Security Numbers Not Required

The Texas Attorney General’s website states: “vaccination sites and insurance companies will not call asking for your Social Security Number.” [accessed on February 25, 2021]

The Trump administration first attempted to require states to provide driver’s license and social security numbers to track the distribution of the vaccine. However, after pressure from immigrant advocates, the federal government dropped the requirement in late December.

In January, the FBI warned El Pasoans about Covid-19 vaccine scams. According to a January 27, 2021 El Paso Times report, FBI El Paso Special Agent Jeffrey Reisinger “urged community members to never give financial information, Social Security or medical information to anyone they do not know.”

Mixed Messages

Although the collection of the social security number is not required for the vaccine, the University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC) seeks the social security number according to a recent open records request.

On February 3, 2021, Lorena Navedo Sosa, UMC’s Chief Administrative Officer sent two forms to Cynthia Cano who was coordinating with UMC and Powered by People for the gathering of names for the vaccine in Segundo Barrio earlier this month.

UMC’s Pre-Registration Form: Covid-19 does not ask for identification numbers. However, the Covid-19 Vaccine Registration Form “requested” by UMC for the vaccine outreach program asks for the social security number.

It is not clear if the failure to provide a social security number disqualifies the patient from receiving the vaccine. The City of El Paso has stated that either a driver’s license or social security number is “required” so that the City can seek reimbursement for the doses from the federal government.

The federal government and the State of Texas have said a social security number is not required, yet UMC and the City of El Paso continue to ask for it.

El Paso Politics will continue to seek answers about the requirements for a social security number for the vaccine and will report as more information becomes available.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

One reply on “UMC Asking For Social Security Numbers For Vaccine”

  1. I was told by UMC public relations that they use the SSN to see if you have been a patient at UMC. The whole thing is quite unnerving…but at the time it was about the only way to get any vaccine in the county.

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