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More states tap community orgs for immigrant vaccination push

More states are letting community groups and churches help vaccinate the roughly 10.5 million immigrants who are living here illegally.

Arizona, Delaware, Michigan and Oregon are among the states joining California and Maryland in enlisting partners trusted by communities to boost vaccination rates among immigrants, many of whom have high-risk jobs in food and maintenance.

Those living here illegally often live with no paper trail. Many of them lack the formal identification or utility bills many states require to provide vaccines. Some states, such as North Carolina and West Virginia, have denied vaccines to people without proof of state residence.

“If you want to get the vaccine into the community, you have to be in the community. They have to know they’re going to a place where they’re not going to be rounded up and deported,” said Maria Matos, president of the Latin American Community Center in Delaware, where about 200 people have gotten vaccinations in a pilot program.

Arizona announced a pilot program under which volunteers recruited by church and community groups fanned out in a heavily Hispanic ZIP code near Phoenix to make appointments and set up taxicab transportation. In Michigan, a community center affiliated with a Hispanic church is opening a weekly vaccine clinic and asking other groups to help them find people struggling to get vaccines.

Oregon is expanding access to vaccines at seven clinics in Latino neighborhoods to help bridge a vaccine gap, after a successful program in the Salem area helped raise vaccination rates by sending more vaccines to immigrant communities.

Stateline is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy.

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A volunteer at the University of Arizona vaccination site hands paperwork back to someone in line to receive the vaccine.