COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — As efforts to bump teachers up to Phase 1A stall at the State House, South Carolina educators are heading north to get vaccinated.
Steve Nuzum and his wife made the trip up I-77 Saturday to Charlotte. They scheduled appointments to get vaccinated in North Carolina once the state began vaccinating educators there last week.
“The process I did was all online. It asked me for my county, my city. Nobody had a problem with us getting vaccinated so that’s what we did,” Nuzum said.
In North Carolina, providers have final say if they’ll accept appointments for people living out of state. The state is currently in Group 3 of its vaccination plan.
North Carolina has received 1 million more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government compared to South Carolina, according to data from both state health departments.
Nuzum said he wanted to get vaccinated ahead of his school district transition to face to face instruction five days a week later this month.
“I don’t want to be the one who gave them COVID and let them take it home to their family members and get really sick themselves,” he said.
Nicole Walker got her first dose Saturday as well. She said her second appointment is scheduled around the time her district is expected to return to five days of in-person instruction.
“It’s been very stressful to worry about the health and safety of my friends, family and colleagues. It’s just a huge relief,” Walker said.
Both Nuzum and Walker said they know they didn’t break any laws by crossing state lines but they did think about the ethical dilemma.
Last week, DHEC officials told a panel of lawmakers they could start vaccinating teachers and school staff and the rest of the population in Phase 1-B starting in Mid to late March.
Senators passed a bill that would bump teachers and day care workers to Phase 1-A and begin vaccinations immediately.
Senator Shane Massey (R-District 25) said he’s not surprised to see teachers crossing state lines for vaccinations.
“It’s disappointing they’ve had to do that. It’s a real failure in leadership we’re not vaccinating our teachers and offering it to them without them having to go to North Carolina,” Massey said.
Massey’s bill (S.516) is still in committee in the House. It has an uncertain future, critics said there just aren’t enough vaccines available right now.
Nuzum and Walker said they believe the longer South Carolina remains in 1-A, more teachers will cross state lines.
“It’s not a sustainable solution to the problem,” Nuzum said.