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Vaccines easier to find on the coast and more people are coming to get the shots

Health officials encourage people to get both doses of the COVID vaccine in the same place.
Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 7:12 PM EDT
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ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Coastal counties are cracking down on people from out of town to get their first COVID vaccines but trying to get their second one closer to home.

According to state data, about half of the doses administered in Onslow County were given to people who live outside of Onslow County. That includes Michael Copeland of Charlotte, who spent weeks looking for his coronavirus shot and found one in Jacksonville.

“It was a thought of ours at the time, too,” said Copeland. “We might have to come back here for our second dose.”

But he and his wife tried hard not to. They spent the three weeks between their doses looking for an available second dose closer to home, to no avail.

“It seems a lot more difficult than it should be right now,” he said.

It’s a practice health officials say is allowed but strongly discouraged.

“If they’re willing to drive that far for their first dose, then they need to make sure that they’re committed to doing the same whenever it’s time to receive their second dose,” said Onslow County Health Director Kristen Richmond-Hoover.

Vaccine providers get their allotment of second doses of the vaccine based on the number of first doses they administered about a month earlier.

“And it causes problems for the provider and their scheduling, and then a potential waste,” said Richmond-Hoover.

Copeland and his wife were able to get a second shot in Charlotte at the last minute before their appointments on Saturday, saving them the day-long trip for their second shot.

But still, Copeland said, it’s indicative of the mad dash it can turn into for people in major cities to get a vaccine.

“Maybe you’ll get lucky, and something will open up,” he said.

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