When vaccine options are few for some residents, they get creative and travel across state lines to get their COVID-19 shot.
Since there are no restrictions, residents who live near state borders are free to explore opportunities in other states. Some vaccine seekers have traveled hundreds of miles just for the peace of mind to receive their dose.
Despite Mississippi having a few hiccups early, Governor Reeves took a strong stand saying, "We will do everything in our power to remove every roadblock and provide access to as many people as possible." After those words, efficiency and allotments increased exponentially in Mississippi. These swift developments caused Louisiana residents to consider making the drive to the Magnolia State. As soon as Louisiana resident Phil Costa turned 70, he shopped around the local hospitals for a vaccine. He was told it would be a week or two, so he explored other options. He turned to social media sites and discovered that he could get the vaccine in Mississippi, so he took advantage of the opportunity. Costa jumped in his car and drove two hours to Laurel, MS, and was in and out in 25 minutes.
Vaccine hunters driving into Tennessee are going for faster service according to state and local health department officials even though it may not be the best idea. "These vaccines are not constrained to county lines or state lines," said Tennessee Health Official, Dr. Lisa Piercey. "There is no prohibition on that." However, Dr. Piercey believes it is important to get your vaccine in your county because the county's allotment is based on its population and does not account for those coming in from other states. Overall, it appears many states do not require proof of residency when it comes to getting vaccinated. If that is the case, the appointment or booking system seems to come down to the honor system.
The state of Florida has been the top vaccine tourism spot according to a recent piece in the Rolling Stone. Governor DeSantis's order on December 23rd seemed to open the door for anyone over the age of 65 to receive Florida's vaccine regardless of residency. Florida Department of Health figures from February 9th reported 62,975 out-of-state residents have referred the vaccine out of 2 million. These numbers seem to have frustrated some residents causing the state's surgeon general to issue an advisory opinion requiring those planning to get vaccinated to show proof of residency.
Most importantly, our vulnerable population needs to be vaccinated and many states identified this crucial segment of the population and served them well.
Over the last 12 months, we have all witnessed this virus spreading rapidly without any boundaries and now it does not appear to be any vaccine boundaries either. Whether you agree or vehemently disagree with traveling across state lines, Tennessee's top doctor said, "Now is not the time to think outside the box when it comes to getting your shot." Do you agree?