Cross Border Vaccination
April 4, 2021 8:52 PM   Subscribe

As a US citizen living in Canada can I go to the US to get vaccinated?

I am a US citizen living in BC. We are a few months off from getting vaccines to my age group in Canada. Could I go to WA state and get vaccinated? Is this morally wrong? Would I have to quarantine? I'm having a hard time googling info if this is possible. Please send any real links you have.

I'm not looking to jump any lines or take vaccine sooner than someone who needs it more. I'm fine to stay where i am and wait it out up here.

My question is only a real thing t if I can get vaccinated sooner where there is vaccine available then that might be a good option for getting more people here vaccinated.
posted by miles1972 to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
You will have to quarantine for 14 days if you return to Canada even if you’ve been vaccinated.
posted by rodlymight at 9:11 PM on April 4


Yes, should have been clearer. I am aware I would need to quarantine when I come back into Canada. What about going into US?
posted by miles1972 at 9:19 PM on April 4


Washington state currently requires 7 day quarantine AFAICT. This would vary state by state.

Also, it seems that at present
Given our state’s limited supply of vaccine, and our commitment to equitable and fair vaccine access, you must live or work in Washington to get vaccinated at our state-run mass vaccination clinics (Ridgefield, Spokane, Kennewick, and Wenatchee).
So for the moment probably out of luck.
posted by mark k at 9:33 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I think your only options are private options that you’d have to pay for. It would not be ethical to get limited, public vaccine earmarked for people living and working in the state. Supplies of vaccine are growing at quite a clip, so I’d imagine you’d be able to come to the US and get vaccinated without taking someone’s place very soon. Of course, you should adhere to any quarantine requirements once you get to the US.
posted by quince at 10:02 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


It would be unethical to get either a public or paid vaccine in the US if you're not living there.
posted by ryanbryan at 10:04 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


Assuming you are a US citizen and pay US taxes and are willing to abide by quarantine rules as well as the rules for age group eligibility, there is nothing unethical about it. I don't know about Washington State, but in NY you could sign up at the large pharmacies or even some grocery stores. If you do not have US insurance, you can still get a vaccination. It would be appropriate to pay for it out of pocket.

If illegal immigrants can get a vaccination no questions asked, which they can and should, certainly a US tax paying citizen can.
posted by AugustWest at 11:18 PM on April 4 [8 favorites]


To be clear: I am a US tax paying citizen.

It would seem unethical of the government to demand that I pay taxes and not be willing to vaccinate me as it does the rest of its citizens.
posted by miles1972 at 11:35 PM on April 4


I became eligible in Washington state on Wednesday and spent a lot of time looking for pharmacy/grocery store appointments to no avail. My city's public option was the only one where I could book an appointment. From news articles, it appears that my experience is fairly common. It may be different in New York, but in Washington state, demand is truly greater than supply right now and that will likely continue to be the case when all adults become eligible on April 15th. This article suggests that supply may catch up with demand in Washington at end of May.
posted by creepygirl at 12:03 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


I am a US tax paying citizen.

miles1972, if as a U.S. citizen residing in Canada you are paying signficant U.S. taxes you might want to review your U.S. tax filings. While the U.S. requires its citizens to report their income to the IRS even if they are residents of other countries, between the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (which is $107,600 for the 2020 tax year) and the Foreign Tax Credit the vast majority of U.S. expats living in Canada rarely pay U.S. taxes.
posted by RichardP at 1:07 AM on April 5


Oh, I guess I wasn't clear — the reason I made the remark above is because if you are, in fact, paying significant U.S. taxes some of the common reasons would be ones that produce paperwork that you could use to show that you actually are meeting the definition of working in some state in the U.S. (and thus you're likely eligible for vaccination from that state's COVID-19 distribution program).
posted by RichardP at 1:43 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


If illegal immigrants can get a vaccination no questions asked, which they can and should, certainly a US tax paying citizen can.

Not to derail, but undocumented immigrants do pay taxes.

I'm not sure that "paying taxes" should be the threshold to measure vaccine eligibility -- most college students pay little or no tax, but should definitely get the vaccine -- but if you're going to use that as your own personal ethical stance, please don't repeat MAGA lies.
posted by basalganglia at 3:39 AM on April 5 [11 favorites]


It would be unethical to get either a public or paid vaccine in the US if you're not living there.
Since US residents deserve them so much more by virtue of… happening to live in one of the richest countries on earth? I really don't understand what line of ethical reasoning leads to that conclusion. There are medical workers in many countries that haven't been able to get a vaccine yet, it would be strange to me to say that it would be unethical for a nurse in Vancouver to drive down to Washington for a vaccine, for instance.
posted by wesleyac at 4:09 AM on April 5 [10 favorites]


You have permission from me to do it if it’s possible. It’s not morally wrong unless you think borders are super important in your ethical worldview (which is what I assume the post referring undocumented immigrants is about; not everything talking about immigrants is a “MAGA lie”, jeez.) In my worldview, more vaccinated people means more lives saved, and it is not more moral if they are American vs non American resident lives.
posted by redlines at 4:17 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


I don't know about Washington State, but in NY you could sign up at the large pharmacies or even some grocery stores.

Yes - if you live or work in NY.

OP I don’t think what you’re asking for is morally wrong at all, but right now I don’t know that there is a legal way for you to do this.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:19 AM on April 5


[Quick note here: miles1972, from your update, it seems you already have a pretty firm conclusion about the ethical aspect, which is fine, but is throwing some needless fightbait into the question if you aren't really looking for differing input on that. Answerers, it's probably better to focus more on the actual practical questions here now rather than argue with OP and each other. Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 4:31 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


It would appear that mark k’s quote about residency requirements applies only to the four state-run mass vaccination sites. You may find that policies differ at other sites and clinics in WA.
posted by thejoshu at 4:38 AM on April 5


As noted by several folks upthread, Washington (like many other states) has a residency requirement for getting the vaccine. (Though this may not be entirely accurate, per the previous comment.)

Not all states have such requirements, though. It looks like the closest state to you without any residency requirements would be California. (Oregon & Idaho would be closer, but they have residency requirements.)

Also, don't forget that you would need to make two trips for two doses unless you have receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:57 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure why vaccine nationalism has now been normalized. Of course you should get vaccinated. The State dept has offered no specific help to citizens abroad but is not against it either.

My only hesitation is the unnecessary travel you are incurring. A relative of mine in his 70s, a US citizen who lives in Mexico, was just vaccinated in California. He just showed up to a vaccination clinic with a relative that did have an appointment, explained the situation and they said no problem. So it can be done. In his case he had already travelled up for a longstanding cardiologist followup.
posted by vacapinta at 6:31 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


If you haven't already, check very carefully that your visa/citizenship status will allow you to easily reenter Canada given the current restrictions. Given all the mandatory quarantining in each direction, I would assume you would be looking for the J&J vaccine, which is in short supply and harder to find at the moment.

It would seem unethical of the government to demand that I pay taxes and not be willing to vaccinate me as it does the rest of its citizens.

One of the unintended outcomes of the decision to basically push all vaccination decisions onto each state is that most states established residency requirements. For vaccine access, your state "citizenship" matters a lot more than your actual citizenship (as noted above, you don't have to have US citizenship or even legal status to qualify). Additionally, many states (Washington among them) have allowed vaccine providers to pretty much set their own policies on what is asked for at time of vaccination to verify eligibility (and not all providers are serving all eligible phases), so that can vary significantly depending on where you are able to get an appointment.

Personally I don't have a major issue with the moral side of things, though many people would see this as a form of "jumping the line" and you should be prepared for that reaction, but the practical side of things should become increasingly simple over the coming weeks as supply eventually catches up with demand.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:48 AM on April 5 [4 favorites]


If you can find a state program without residency requirments, then of course you can. However, you can only get back into Canada if you are one of the following: a permanent resident, an immediate family member of a PR or citizen, or have a work or school visa. If you dont, you are not getting back in once you leave until they reopen the border. If you drive across the border you dont have to do the hotel, you can quarantine at home. You'll still need a negative covid test, even after your vaccination.

Also, this would limit you to the J&J vaccine, since I doubt you'll want to exit and reenter twice.
posted by ananci at 7:39 AM on April 5


"Vaccine tourism" is certainly possible in some places in the U.S. Whether it is reasonable/ feasible/ responsible/ for you to get a vaccine in a convenient-to-you U.S.A-based location, I can't say. Different states have different eligibility (and residency) rules that are regularly changing. Even within states, different counties and sometimes distribution sites may have different eligibility rules.

If you really want to get the lay of the land for logistics, the best resource I've found is a particular state's "vaccine hunters" facebook group.
posted by oceano at 8:54 AM on April 5


I'm not looking to jump any lines

You would be jumping ahead in line, because right now the line in Washington State does not include a space for you. I imagine it will at some point, but that point is not now.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:20 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I'm a US citizen living abroad. I'm really surprised by the number of people who suggest that we shouldn't be allowed access to the vaccines being distributed for free to US citizens by our elected government. We may be living abroad, but we still vote, file taxes, and participate in our country's civic life in many ways, even while abroad. I understand that in some states, vaccine providers are not allowed to ask questions about residency or citizenship for fear that this might put people off from showing up. My concern this whole time has been whether I can find a practical way to get back to the States and get my shot. But I live a 12-hour flight away. You're in Canada and can presumably drive home. You should.
posted by artisthatithaca at 11:37 AM on April 5 [4 favorites]


The only federal vaccination site in Washington right now is the FEMA one in Yakima. You can find it here. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that site just wants to put shots in arms and doesn’t check about residency or if you technically qualify by state guidelines yet. It will probably be your easiest one.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:59 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I can't find any actual statement on the WA state website that limits vaccines to WA residents/workers, although some of the individual sites state such a requirement.

We may be living abroad, but we still vote, file taxes, and participate in our country's civic life in many ways, even while abroad.

Most of the rollout is being handled by states and localities. If you're no longer a resident for tax purposes of a state, no, you don't. You don't vote in state elections, you don't pay state taxes, and, as you aren't around to infect or be infected, your direct involvement in the public health of the state population is basically nil.

I understand that in some states, vaccine providers are not allowed to ask questions about residency or citizenship for fear that this might put people off from showing up.

No, in states where they are only vaccinating residents, they don't ask questions about citizenship to avoid deterring resident non-citizens from getting the vaccine. You can tell they want to deter non-residents by the simple fact that they aren't offering vaccines to them.

In these conversations, I honestly prefer people who just think they're entitled to cut the line/find loopholes to people who try these rationalizations as to why they're really complying with the rules or acting in the best interest of public health, really, when it's so very obvious that they aren't. It's just so weaksauce.

OP, if you otherwise qualify, go to a state that doesn't limit to residents. Even if I'm wrong about WA, at least as of last month, AZ didn't, and I think there are others. Or at least wait until supply is exceeding demand, which shouldn't be more than a month or two, so you can be confident you're not taking a shot from someone else. While I personally wouldn't be comfortable with playing vaccine tourist before then, I'm not going to argue that you should gainsay an individual state's determination on how to use their resources.

(Note that you should be very confident they will even let you back into Canada! The rules for entry into Canada are quite restrictive.)
posted by praemunire at 12:21 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]


Wow, that's really uncharitable. The rollout might be handled by states, but the U.S. vaccine stockpile was acquired with federal funds. This was also the money used to develop Moderna, and it's the money used to fund the CDC. Many people I know have been stuck overseas for over a year through circumstances that are out of their control. I have too. Going home and getting vaccinated at a point in time when others in your general age and risk profile are getting vaccinated isn't "playing vaccine tourist." It's going home and getting vaccinated.
posted by artisthatithaca at 3:00 PM on April 5 [5 favorites]


I can't find any actual statement on the WA state website that limits vaccines to WA residents/workers, although some of the individual sites state such a requirement.

Here is what the Washington Department of Health says about residency:

Given our state’s limited supply of vaccine, and our commitment to equitable and fair vaccine access, you must live or work in Washington to get vaccinated at our state-run mass vaccination clinics (Ridgefield, Spokane, Kennewick, and Wenatchee).

We recognize the desire to get vaccinated and know that neighboring states are also giving vaccinations. If you do not live or work in Washington, please do not make vaccine appointments or travel to Washington mass vaccination clinics for vaccines.


Requirements at non-mass vaccination sites are pretty much up to each provider (just like they can select what populations they are targeting for vaccination), and you would want to check that carefully before showing up.

Going home and getting vaccinated at a point in time when others in your general age and risk profile are getting vaccinated isn't "playing vaccine tourist." It's going home and getting vaccinated.

Right now I think the common response (which I personally disagree with) would be that "going home" should mean going to the state where you have a legitimate long term connection, not just going to the most convenient state.

Within weeks the supply should catch up and it will quickly be a very different scenario.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:21 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I have relatives who traveled to WA from Mexico to get vaccinated. They isolated, tested repeatedly before and after flying, and used their WA driver's licenses as ID at a privately run clinic. My relatives chose to do this because they needed income from risky in-person jobs, because they are medically vulnerable, because there was little sign of the vaccine becoming available in Mexico, and because they could. I believe this was a complex but mostly moral act on their part. Everyone needs the vaccine and global distribution has not been just.

WA will be opening vaccination up to all adults on April 15. For now it is restricted to people in high-priority groups. Only the state managed mass vaccination sites are officially restricted to residents. When you become eligible here is an appointment availability aggregator.
posted by VelveteenBabbitt at 5:24 PM on April 5


Anecdata: my friend's dual citizen parent did this successfully in NY.
posted by bibliotropic at 10:03 PM on April 5


If it were me I would wait until my demographic was eligible (could be now depending on your age and health background), then I’d try to get an appointment at a pharmacy e.g. in Bellingham Safeway. The idea that it’s moral for US citizens (or residents) to get vaccinated ahead of everyone else seems pretty flimsy to me.

21 days of quarantine might be a lot to trade for getting vaccinated early though?
posted by hungrytiger at 2:53 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


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