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An Observational Study Quantifying the Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 Among Immigrant Adults, 2021 California Health Interview Survey.

Public Health Reports 2023 November 30
OBJECTIVE: Substantial data on COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality among medically underserved populations are available, yet data on the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic among immigrants in the United States are limited. We identified COVID-19-related health and social disparities among US immigrants.

METHODS: We 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, childcare difficulties, and difficulty paying rent) during the pandemic by citizenship status, using data from the 2021 California Health Interview Survey. The overall sample size included 24 453 US-born citizens, naturalized citizens, and noncitizens aged ≥18 years. We examined relationships between sociodemographic variables, including immigration-related factors, and COVID-19-related health and social outcomes using descriptive, bivariate, and multivariate logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: When accounting for sociodemographic characteristics, noncitizens had higher odds than naturalized and US-born citizens of experiencing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, including difficulty paying rent (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.54; 95% CI, 1.47-2.42) and job loss (aOR = 1.43; 95%, CI, 1.14-1.79). At the bivariate level, noncitizens had the highest rate of ever had or thought had COVID-19 (24.7%) compared with US-born citizens (20.8%) and naturalized citizens (16.8%; all P < .001). Noncitizens also had a significantly higher likelihood of risk-reduction behaviors (eg, always wearing a face covering, getting vaccinated if available) than US-born citizens ( P < .001).

CONCLUSION: 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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