The pharmacy chain says that it has since invited the women back to receive their shots.
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Rite Aid has apologized to two undocumented women after it denied them Covid-19 vaccines at two Southern California stores, according to ABC News.
Last Monday, one of the women walked into a Rite Aid location in Mission Hills, where she was allegedly turned away twice after presenting her foreign consular ID as identification, per local network affiliate KABC. The unidentified woman’s son, Sebastian Araujo, later took to social media to call attention to the incident and received backing from California’s 29th District Representative, Tony Cardenas.
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“[Legal status] is not a requirement whatsoever at the federal, state or local level, and [Rite Aid] has been told very clearly that that was wrong and they immediately apologized for doing so, but it left the woman very distraught,” Cardenas told KABC.
Three days later, another undocumented woman (who has also chosen not to make her name public) walked into a Rite Aid in Laguna Niguel, where she was purportedly turned away twice after showing a pharmacist an out-of-state ID and a letter confirming her employment. The pharmacist allegedly told the woman, who works as a babysitter for an area family, that the drug store would only accept a Social Security card and that priority was given to U.S. citizens.
According to KABC, the same pharmacist repeated similar information to her boss, Kevin Rager, over the phone. “I just want the government or the companies to send out information to their employees saying that this type of behavior is not tolerated,” Rager told the outlet. “These questions shouldn’t be asked of any individual, and our entire country needs to get vaccinated, so I don’t see why somebody should be denied when they actually want to get a vaccine.”
The chain soon apologized to the women, telling ABC News that both cases were “isolated” incidents that occurred because employees had not followed proper protocols for vaccine eligibility. “In such an unprecedented rollout, there are going to be mistakes and there will be always areas for providers to improve,” Rite Aid officials explained to ABC News. “We’re seeking out those opportunities every day.”
The company has since invited the women back for vaccinations (Araujo’s mother reportedly received her shot at a different location). Rite Aid has also updated its website FAQs to clarify that eligible vaccine recipients would not be turned away if they did not have photo ID or insurance.