Every state approaches COVID-19 vaccinations differently, with different sets of rules for who can get a shot and where.
One WCPO viewer, who asked not to be named, wrote to us: “Why do you not have to be an Ohio resident, work in Ohio or even be a UC health patient in order to receive the covid vaccine? Other states like Kentucky, require you to be a resident or essential worker in the state and proof is required?”
Dr. Steve Feagins with Hamilton County Public Health says proving residency means asking people to provide an ID that not everyone has. Since health leaders in Ohio want everyone eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, they don’t ask for proof of residence, Feagins said.
“UC is like all of our health care systems,” he said. “They take you at your word. How do you prove you live in a state? Do you show a driver's license? What if you don't have a driver’s license, is that equitable?”
Feagins said UC Health serves three states, with many seeking care across the river and over state lines.
But cutting to the heart of our viewer’s question, other states like Kentucky require vaccine recipients to be a resident. If Kentucky requires it, why not Ohio?
“We do want you to be a resident, but we're not requiring proof of residency. That requires an ID not everyone has,” Feagins said.
For example, I live in Ohio, but my work takes me into Kentucky. There, “media” are classified as essential workers, who become eligible to receive a vaccine in phase 1C starting March 1.
I asked Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear if that means I could get a shot there; He advised me to get my shot in Ohio, and I’ll have to wait for my age group to become eligible.
On Thursday, due to a scheduling error, about 1,000 Ohioans were able to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. Those who showed up for a shot Thursday were not turned away, and Kroger is working to reschedule other appointments. Now, Kentucky requires patients signing up for a vaccine to provide their ZIP code.
As for our viewer's concern about folks getting vaccinated at health systems where they're not patients, Feagins said if you meet eligibility requirements, you should sign up and go where you can get in.
This month, WCPO 9 is taking your questions about COVID-19 vaccines and posing them to local health care experts. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or message @KristynHartmanWCPO on Facebook with your name, neighborhood and question, and you could see an expert answer it on air.