Monday, March 01, 2021

Vaccine tourism prompts many states and communities to tighten eligibility rules

Differences in vaccine eligibility requirements have prompted many people go to nearby towns, counties or states in hopes of getting the coronavirus vaccine. "The so-called vaccine tourism has prompted some states and public health departments to more strictly enforce residency requirements at local vaccination sites," Andrea Noble reports for Route Fifty

"With more than 50 unique vaccination plans across the United States, one’s access to the Covid-19 vaccine depends in large part on where one lives. In Wisconsin, mink farmers are being considered for the next phase of vaccine prioritization. In New Jersey, smokers can get priority access to the vaccine. In Colorado, journalists fall under the category of frontline workers," Kiran Misra reports for The Guardian. "Without standardized protocol, and because of the fractured American health system, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people have gotten vaccines outside their home states."

Though not all vaccine tourism is city dwellers traveling to rural areas, that's what's happening in Missouri as residents of St. Louis seek out vaccines in surrounding rural areas, Kayla Drake reports for St. Louis Public Radio. One St. Louis resident told Drake that, for every person she knows who has found a shot in the city, she knows five who have traveled elsewhere to get one. Some people pre-register for shots at several locations in hopes of scoring an appointment. Many criticized Missouri Gov. Mike Parson for poorly distributing the vaccine so that rural areas got too many and St. Louis not enough.

Vaccine distribution varies wildly across rural areas. Some rural areas don't enough vaccines to go around, prompting rural vaccine tourists to go to cities for a vaccine. But in Missouri, at least four recent rural mass vaccination events had doses left over when the events had concluded.

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