Include the Alias? Skip the Real Name? COVID-19 Vaccination Card Recommendations
Names can be a complex thing for immigrant and migrant workers. These workers often must use a pseudonym in workplaces, as they may lack documentation to legally work in the United States using their birth name. While this process can lead to short-term benefits for workers, it can also create unexpected problems. Because of recent vaccine mandates which dictate that large companies with at least one hundred employees require their employees to be vaccinated, the vaccine card is no longer simply a health document, but is now also an employment document. Workplace mandates are changing the way we use these cards and have given the names on them new importance.
For workers who use aliases for work but received their vaccine under their birthname, vaccine cards have become more complex. Vaccination cards are the most common method to prove one’s vaccination status that we use, and their new purpose can result in important consequences for those who use an alias, especially for workers who were vaccinated before they knew there would be workplace mandates. For employees of large companies (100 + employees), employees who cannot prove they are vaccinated must be tested for COVID-19 weekly. Smaller companies are also often requiring proof of vaccination. Many vaccinated immigrants may have a different name on their vaccine card than the one they use for employment.
Migrant Clinicians Network recommends an approach that prioritizes public health – getting workers vaccinated – and recognizes the importance of helping immigrant and migrant workers maintain their employment. For clinicians serving immigrants who work under aliases, a possible solution involves issuing two versions of a vaccination record card, one with the worker’s legal name, and one with their work alias. This allows immigrants to have relevant cards for different environments, giving them the ability to use their legal name when appropriate and their alias when it is needed. If feasible, clinicians are encouraged to note the name and alias (“AKA”) in the state’s vaccine database, which is unavailable for employer use.
These difficulties with names and vaccine cards may also affect people outside of immigrant communities. For example, transgender people who have not legally changed their name may have their new name on their vaccination card while legal documents for work may have their deadname (a common term for birthnames that are no longer used). For all workers getting vaccinated for the first time, it is important to ask them if they use any other names when filling out the card and discuss options.
Issuing a second card can help to prevent workers from trying to find loopholes on their own. There is concern that some may attempt to get vaccinated a second time to get a new card with a different name on it. In order to avoid workers getting additional, unrecommended doses, it is better to make additional copies of cards, with multiple names, available to patients for work and other situations than to risk a patient getting harmed.
- Read NRC-RIM’s Best Practices for Employee Communication Around COVID-19 Vaccines.
- Visit NRC-RIM's Employer Engagement page for numerous other resources.
- Read more about aliases, along with dozens of other health concerns affecting migrant and immigrant patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, on our regularly updated FAQ.
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