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US citizenship not a requirement for COVID vaccine in Nebraska
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US citizenship not a requirement for COVID vaccine in Nebraska

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Taylor Gage, a spokesman for Gov. Pete Ricketts, said: "Proof of citizenship is not required for (COVID-19) vaccination."

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Proof of American citizenship is not required for Nebraskans to receive vaccinations against COVID-19, a spokesman for Gov. Pete Ricketts said Tuesday.

Confusion on that point had arisen after an exchange during a Ricketts press briefing Monday. Ricketts was asked if undocumented workers in meatpacking plants would be given vaccines. The governor replied that illegal immigrants are not allowed to work in the plants, so that would not be an issue.

At least one reporter tweeted that the governor had said undocumented residents would not be eligible for the vaccine. Some organizations, advocates and state senators reacted with alarm.

Asked to clarify later, Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage said: “Proof of citizenship is not required for vaccination.”

He said the governor’s statement Monday morning “was that illegal immigrants are not allowed to work in meat processing facilities and therefore will not be receiving the vaccine in that context. Furthermore, while the federal government is expected to eventually make enough vaccine available for everyone in the country, Nebraska is going to prioritize citizens and legal residents ahead of illegal immigrants.”

Gage did not elaborate on how Nebraska would prioritize in that fashion.

Andrea Skolkin, CEO of OneWorld Community Health Centers Inc. in Omaha, said the organization had received no direction from the state about immigration status. Limiting vaccinations for that reason would be detrimental to public health, she said. OneWorld doesn’t ask for documentation for health services generally, and does not intend to do so for the vaccine either.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told CBS’ Face the Nation in December: “No one in this country should be denied a vaccine because of their documentation status, because it’s not ethically right to deny those individuals.”


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Chris Burbach covers the Douglas County Board, Planning Board and other local government bodies, as well as local neighborhood issues. Follow him on Twitter @chrisburbach. Phone: 402-444-1057.

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