Americans are crossing state lines to get their COVID-19 vaccine

The slow rollout of the coronavirus vaccine has sent Americans scrambling to get theirs as fast as possible. Currently, there is no national plan for a distribution process for the vaccine. This is causing many to cross state lines, where they are eligible to receive the vaccine. 

With the states varying on who they are prioritizing to get the vaccine before others, some are crossing state lines where they are able to get the doses. 

Some states are only vaccinating people above the age of 65. Others, like Mississippi, are vaccinating anyone between the ages of 16-64 if they have chronic health conditions, including people 65 years and older.  

The problem with this is that the states receive the amount of doses based on their population. It does not account for those coming in from other states. This has caused some states to update their eligibility requirements, like Kentucky. However, Georgia health officials said that they will not crack down and police the issue because the main goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible. 

Most of this comes down to the honor system. Health officials want people to wait their turn and they understand how hard that may be. 

Both the Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccine require two doses of the shot, therefore causing travelers to make the trip again. It is recommended to receive the shot from the same provider. 

Pennsylvania is currently in phase 1A of their vaccination distribution process. They are vaccinating people 65 years old and older, any adults with serious health conditions, healthcare workers and long-term care residents. 

Pennsylvania does not have the residency requirement in order to get the vaccine. 

The state has only vaccinated 9.2 percent of the population. 

Lauren Fabryka, intensive care unit and outpatient nurse at Bayhealth Medical Center in Delaware, said that many patients are having an extremely difficult time getting the COVID-19 vaccine. “In the office, the patients are mainly elderly and are computer-illiterate. Delaware and Maryland have not advertised availability of the vaccine anywhere else other than the computer,” she said. 

She said that her office receives many calls a day regarding the vaccine and in return they give them information for a vaccine clinic. “It seems like the clinics are so overwhelmed with people signing up for the vaccine. People are so eager to get the vaccine that they end up calling multiple health departments and states,” she said. 

In Delaware, only clinics set up by the state health department and pharmacies are administering the vaccine. Doctor offices have not received any of the vaccines yet. 

Fabryka has had patients that traveled from Delaware to Maryland to receive their vaccine because Maryland has health departments for each county. “They call each health department until they find one with an availability,” she said. 

Alex Rowley, an alumna of Cabrini University, now works at Marietta Memorial Hospital. She said that the hospital receives 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine a week, for the staff and the community. 

“My boss’s wife works in West Virginia and the wait for her to get the vaccine was three weeks. So she had to go to Ohio to get the vaccine where they had availability,” she said. 

President Biden has promised to provide the states with more reliable projections of vaccine supply and he plans on purchasing an additional 200 million vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer. He also plans to increase locations of vaccination sites and people who are administered to give the vaccine. 

This will allow for more appointments to be available so that more people can receive their vaccine in their own state. 

With different variants of the virus circulation across the globe, it is giving people more of an incentive to protect themselves and get the vaccine. 

As supplies run short, vaccine tourism will only continue to surge. 

If you are looking to get vaccinated in Pennsylvania, check out the Department of Public Health website to learn more.