Shift in NC policy aimed at preventing COVID-19 vaccine tourism

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A change in North Carolina policy was announced Tuesday when it comes to vaccinating people from other states.

In the past, North Carolina had allowed it. Now they say local health departments and other providers can turn those people away.

“We all need to get vaccinated, and we have to wait our turn,” said Hannah, a Raleigh resident.

“I think it’s a good idea to stay where they are so everyone can get vaccinated where they are,” said Hassan Elkassem, also from Raleigh.

The CDC and state argue that the virus doesn’t recognize borders and neither could we. The CDC has since updated its guidance, allowing states to turn non-state residents away.

The state said it updated its policy based on that, writing, “it is permissible to not offer vaccine to temporary travelers who do not reside, work, or spend significant time in the North Carolina.” 

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said local health departments and providers had been advised of the change. 

Last week they said about 27,000 non-state residents had been vaccinated in North Carolina. That accounted for fewer than 3% of all vaccine that’s been administered.  

“We need to really focus on our citizens in North Carolina. Love to save the world but our responsibility is here in this state,” said Bruce Robistow, the director of the Halifax County Health Department. 

His county is very close to the Virginia line. 

“I get emails still (asking) are you taking people from Virginia and my reply is ‘we are prioritizing the citizens in the state of North Carolina.’ There’s not a lot of other ways to truly enforce it because the appointments are online,” Robistow said. 

CBS 17 asked him if a residency question could be added to their online form. 

“You can, however, you can’t verify,” Robistow said.

The state doesn’t have an ID requirement. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Click here for full list of trending stories