Frustrated foreigners in Yucatán wonder if they will ever get the free coronavirus vaccine

Many are being incorrectly told that they need to present an INE voting ID card, which only Mexican citizens can have

Vaccine center workers in Progreso say that they are swamped with requests from people that are not eligible. Photo: File
Vaccine center workers in Progreso say that they are swamped with requests from people who are not eligible. Photo: File

The COVID-19 vaccination center in Progreso is reportedly turning away people who do not have a Mexican voter ID card.

Voter ID cards, known as INEs, are the most common form of identification in Mexico. Since these ID cards are only available to Mexican nationals, authorities who require them effectively shut out all foreign nationals who are entitled to the vaccinations.

A Canadian woman was turned away Wednesday from a Progreso vaccination center despite the fact that she could prove she was a resident of the coastal community. There are also reports of a Cuban national being turned away and told explicitly that the reason was that he did not have an INE. 

Several foreign nationals have contacted Yucatán Magazine with similar stories. 

Similar incidents were reported last month. Foreigners were denied COVID-19 vaccines, and many were told that the reason was they were not able to produce an INE ID card. Several reported taking a risky flight to their home countries just for a vaccination.

Earlier: Yucatán has now received over 60,000 COVID-19 vaccines, but seniors in Mérida have yet to see any

Since then, Mexico’s federal government has confirmed that foreigners residing in the country are entitled to free COVID-19 vaccines. This policy was confirmed via email to Yucatán Magazine by Olivia Baker Gómez from the office of Yucatán’s governor.

The confusion likely the result of miscommunication between local and federal authorities. However, many foreign nationals in Yucatán are beginning to lose hope that they will be able to get the free vaccine in Mexico. 

During the last three days, 5,100 people over the age of 60 have been vaccinated in Progreso. At the end of the day yesterday only 2,810 doses remained. Vaccine center workers say that large numbers of people from Mérida have been turned away from the center because their voter ID cards are registered to addresses outside of the municipality. 

Reports on social media abound of poor organization and a lack of accurate information at COVID-19 vaccination centers in Yucatán. 

As of Thursday morning, there is no new information regarding when vaccinations are expected to begin for people 60 and over in Mérida, the state’s largest city. 

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.