Published Date: November 29, 2023

Summary: Data on the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic among immigrants in the United States are limited. Authors identified COVID-19–related health and social disparities among U.S. immigrants. They analyzed predictors of COVID-19-related health and social outcomes (including ever had or thought had COVID-19, vaccine uptake, risk-reduction behaviors, job loss, child care difficulties, and difficulty paying rent) during the pandemic by citizenship status, using data from the 2021 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)

Findings: When accounting for sociodemographic characteristics, noncitizens had higher odds than naturalized and U.S.-born citizens of experiencing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, including difficulty paying rent and job loss. Noncitizens had the highest rate of ever having had or thought they had COVID-19 (24.7%) compared with U.S.-born citizens (20.8%) and naturalized citizens. Noncitizens also had a significantly higher likelihood of risk-reduction behaviors (e.g., always wearing a face covering, getting vaccinated if available) than U.S.-born citizens.

These findings reveal the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic among noncitizens and reflect limited socioeconomic resources, limited access to health care, and precarious employment among noncitizens in California during the pandemic. Citizenship status should be considered a critical immigration-related factor when examining disparities among immigrant populations.

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