Rite Aid apologizes after refusing to administer vaccine to 2 women

Rite Aid apologized after the drug store chain's employees refused to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to two undocumented women in separate incidents.

Video Transcript

- Rite Aid is responding after two women say the pharmacy turned them away from getting a vaccination because of their immigration status. Eyewitness News reporter Jessica De Nova has more on what is being done to keep this from happening again.

JESSICA DE NOVA (VOICEOVER): A San Fernando Valley mother celebrating. She is now vaccinated against COVID-19. This after the woman, who is undocumented, was turned away from a Rite Aid in Mission Hills when she presented her foreign consular ID as identification. Her son, Sebastian Araujo, took to social media drawing the attention of government leaders who say legal status in the country is not required to be vaccinated.

TONY CARDENAS: That is not a requirement whatsoever at the federal, state, or local level. And that organization has been told very clearly that that was wrong.

JESSICA DE NOVA (VOICEOVER): Just days after the Eyewitness News report on the Mission Hills incident aired, another undocumented woman, this time in South Orange County, was denied her COVID-19 vaccination twice in the same day at a Rite Aid in Laguna Niguel. She doesn't want to go on camera but provides child care for the Rager family, who are heartbroken by the humiliation she suffered. Their babysitter of five years left in tears.

KEVIN RAGER: Things like this just shouldn't happen.

JESSICA DE NOVA (VOICEOVER): Kevin Rager provided his employee with a letter verifying she watches his children. But that combined with an out-of-state ID wasn't enough. The pharmacist insisted on a Social Security card, telling the woman priority goes to US citizens, later repeating this inaccurate information over the phone to the Ragers.

KEVIN RAGER: Really, I just want the government or the companies to send out information to their employees saying that this type of, you know, behavior is just not tolerated. 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.

JESSICA DE NOVA (VOICEOVER): In both cases, Rite Aid representatives contacted the parties involved to apologize. On the company's website, changes where a driver's license and Social Security card were once listed as acceptable government-issued forms of ID, now sits a message reading, "You will not be turned away if you do not have photo ID or insurance." A Rite Aid spokesperson admits mistakes were made and says, after the incident in Mission Hills, staff were retrained. But why it happened again in Orange County is under investigation.

JESSICA DE NOVA: Rite Aid has rescheduled the family's child care provider to be vaccinated later this week.