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Vaccinating across state lines; some providers in border counties look for guidance

COVID-19 vaccine distribution at the Staunton/Augusta Health Department.
COVID-19 vaccine distribution at the Staunton/Augusta Health Department.(WHSV)
Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 10:29 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Some states are cracking down on “vaccination migration” or allowing non-residents to receive a coronavirus vaccination in their state. Most recently Florida issued new rules on this but will Wisconsin follow?

When it comes to the vaccine, right now the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is not restricting individuals from out of state. As long as the person falls under the category of open vaccination groups, they can get the vaccine in the Badger state if the provider allows. DHS says these decisions are being left up to health officials on the local level at this time but that could change if they start to see issues with doing this.

It’s all about supply and demand. Right now vaccine supply is limited which is why this is all a topic of possible concern.

Many health care workers who live in a neighboring state have been vaccination. DHS says they encourage that and want anyone who is caring for patients in Wisconsin, to have access to be vaccinated.

Jenny Pritchett, Chief Clinical Officer at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie Du Chein says many of their workers live in Iowa and 40% of their patients do as well. This leaves them with many questions on how to handle this issue moving forward as more vaccination groups open up.

“We want to be able to vaccinate all of our patients,” said Pritchett.

She says they hope to receive further guidance on this next week. “Of course we want to follow the guidelines...we want to follow the rules,” she says.

If the state does decide to issue restrictions on this, Pritchett says they plan to coordinate with health officials in Iowa to ensure their patients are taken care of. “I’m hopeful we will be able to work with the state of Iowa to ensure we can establish our patients at some sort of health department or another entity so they can get vaccinated,” she said.

In Rock County. public health officials say they are not aware of any additional prioritization within the eligible groups that have been identified by DHS. “Our providers are doing their best to vaccinate as many people as they can within those eligible groups,” said Jessica Turner, Rock Co. Public Health Communications Specialist.

Public Health Madison Dane County had a different response. Sarah Mattes, Communications Supervisor said the policy at PHMDC is to vaccinate you if you live in Dane County, or if the job you hold that qualifies you for a vaccine is in Dane County. “We ask people from other counties to reach out their local health department or healthcare provider, since vaccine is limited,” Mattes wrote in a statement to NBC15.

Each state is handling this differently and guidance can change as we get further into vaccine distribution so when in doubt, contact your local health department or health provider.

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