Local 12: Undocumented immigrants' worries could keep them from getting COVID vaccine

UC family medicine physician says immigrant status shouldn’t matter

Christy O’Dea, MD, an associate professor of family medicine at UC and medical director of the Crossroad Health Center, spoke with Local 12 journalists about vaccine hesitancy among undocumented residents in the Tristate. Thousands worry what might happen if they come forward to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. O’Dea says she has been hearing an reoccurring question from the clients she sees: "Does my immigration status affect my ability to get the vaccine?"

Christy O'Dea, MD.

Christy O'Dea, MD.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a statement saying undocumented immigrants can get the COVID-19 vaccine without fear of arrest but skepticism remains. “I think the last four years have been really hard,” O’Dea told Local 12 News. “There has been a lot of fear in the community and a lot of concerns about deportation.” Navigating the medical system can also be complex for undocumented immigrants who may encounter language barriers and other obstacles. In Greater Cincinnati there are some 60,000 Latino immigrants, but the number overall of immigrants could be much higher since undocumented residents often don’t come forward.

Crossroad Health Center has five locations including its headquarters in Over-the-Rhine and sees about 13,000 children and adults, largely serving a Medicaid population that struggles with access to health care. 

Listen to the interview with Christy O’Dea, MD, and Local 12.

Learn more about Christy O’Dea, MD.

Featured image of the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati is courtesy of Unsplash.