Don’t cross state lines for COVID-19 vaccine, Washington health officials say

The Washington Department of Health says there’s nothing to prevent someone from crossing county lines to find an available COVID-19 vaccine, but not state lines.

SEATTLE — The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) says there’s nothing to prevent someone from crossing county lines to find an available COVID-19 vaccine.

“All mass vaccination site locations are open to anyone eligible for vaccine, no matter where they reside,” a DOH spokesperson said in a statement, Wednesday.

Pierce County said it’s not verifying peoples’ residency when they show up to county vaccination sites.

“We recognize that some people may live in Pierce County and work in King County and are getting vaccinations where they work, so it really doesn’t work to restrict people entirely to their county of residence. We really want something that’s going to be efficient and effective, to get the vaccine out as quickly as possible,” said Nigel Turner, division director for communicable disease control for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

“We know not everyone getting vaccinated in King County is a King County resident, and the same is likely true in other counties,” said a spokesperson for Public Health — Seattle & King County.

RELATED: Frustration grows as eligible Washingtonians continue to have trouble getting vaccine

The Snohomish Health District said people who live in other counties but work in Snohomish County can get vaccinated at the county’s sites.

“Please keep in mind that vaccine availability is still limited everywhere, and appointments have been booking up rapidly,” the health district said.

Grays Harbor County is more restrictive at the site it runs.

“This is Grays Harbor County residents only at this time until we get through the phases that we need to meet for our area,” said Leonard Johnson, the county’s incident management team commander, during a press conference on Monday.

Some Washington residents have asked if they can cross state lines to get vaccinated.

The DOH is strongly discouraging that because the federal government allocates a specific number of doses to each state for its residents.

“We are relying on the honor system to get us through these phases in an equitable way, and that means trusting that people will not cross state lines into Washington for the purpose of getting vaccinated. Please stop coming if you do not live or work in Washington. We do not have vaccine for you,” a DOH spokesperson said.

The DOH also released a statement Wednesday saying to ensure equitable and fair access specifically at its four mass vaccination sites in Ridgefield, Spokane, Kennewick, and Wenatchee, people registering for vaccines at any of those sites may be asked to provide one of the following: 

  • driver’s license or work/school ID, 
  • letter with your address,
  • utility bill,
  • statement/letter with a Washington state address, or 
  • voucher from an employer, faith-based institution, health care provider, school, or other registered organization or agency, etc. that the person lives or works in Washington state.

“The vaccine site will not make a copy or record this information in any way. This is only to show that the person currently resides or works in Washington state,” the DOH statement said.

RELATED: How to use Washington’s PhaseFinder tool to determine your COVID-19 vaccine eligibility