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Can Visitors Get Covid-19 Vaccine in the US?

By Ella Bergquist April 13, 2021 (Updated May 21, 2021) 5 min. read
Vaccine Tourism to the US

The United States of America is producing and distributing more COVID vaccines than anywhere in the world right now. People from outside of the US are desperate to get one of these vaccines. Some people have found a way to jump the line for a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s called Vaccine Tourism.

Medical tourism has always been around but in the opposite manner. Many Americans will travel to other countries to receive cheaper medical operations such as dental work, IVF, breast implants, etc. Vaccine Tourism is a newer concept that is driving many non-Americans into the US for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Is Vaccine Tourism Legal?

If you have a visa or are allowed to legally visit the US then, yes, it is legal but there is no guarantee that you will get the shot. There is nothing in place by the government that can promise you a COVID-19 vaccine shot. If you are traveling to the US for a shot you will have to know that you may not get it.

Some countries are already actively preventing Vaccine Tourism like the UK. In the UK you are required to get the vaccine through your doctor and you have to confirm all your personal details which includes your address. In the United States, things are more loosely monitored. Each state has it’s own rules and procedures for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine which is why Vaccine Tourism is happening throughout the US.

Canadians Encouraged To Get Vaccine

Canada is currently struggling to obtain enough vaccine doses for Canadian residents since they’ve rolled out. Due to this roadblock, many Canadian officials have actually encouraged Canadians to get their vaccine anywhere that they have access to. Canadian authorities want to see more vaccinated residents so many from Canada are driving across the US border to do so.

New York Vaccine Pop-up for Tourists

The eligibility in New York to get a vaccine changed last week and is now open to any tourists there! Previously to get vaccinated in the city, those who were residents or workers were only allowed to get the shot. To “improve access” to vaccines, the mayor of New York has announced mobile vaccine sites throughout New York including areas such as Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Central Park, the High Line, and more.

Will Canadians Get Stopped at the US Border Trying to Get a Vaccine?

The simple answer is yes. Any Canadian will be asked at the US border what their intention of their visit is. The US and Canadian travel is still restricted to only “essential” travel. “Travel for the sole purpose of obtaining a vaccination is not permissible under current travel restrictions,” According to the US Border Protection and Customs.

A Canadian can come to the US on an essential travel trip and while visiting get a vaccine but they can not use the vaccine as their sole reason for traveling to the US. “Canadian residents returning to Canada after receiving essential medical services in the United States may be exempt from COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements if they have a note from a Canadian licensed health care practitioner indicating the service abroad was essential and a note from a U.S. licensed health care practitioner indicating the resident received the service,” a spokesperson for  Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Which States Give Non-Residents a COVID-19 Vaccine?

AlabamaNo residency required
AlaskaHas residency requirements but is open to people who work in the state. Will ask for proof of employment
ArizonaNo residency required
ArkansasOpen to people who work in the state
CaliforniaNo residency required
ColoradoNo residency required
ConnecticutOpen to people who live out of state but work in the state. Must show proof
DelawareOpen to people who live out of state but work in the state. Must show proof
FloridaOpen to people who provide goods or services in Florida. Must show proof
GeorgiaOpen to people who live part-time in the state and live out of state but work in the state. Must show proof
HawaiiHas residency requirements, includes part-time residents and “snowbirds”
IdahoRequires proof of residency or work in the state in order to get vaccine
IllinoisHas residency requirements but includes part-time residents
IndianaHas residency requirements but is open to people who work in the state. Will ask for proof of employment
IowaNo residency required
KansasResidency required – Decisions made on a county-by-county basis
KentuckyHas residency requirements with exceptions for out-of-state nurses who work in the state
LouisianaNo residency required
MaineResidency required – must be a Maine resident or work in the state. Proof is required
MarylandNo residency required
MassachusettsOpen to people who live or work in the state
MichiganNo residency required
MinnesotaNo residency required
MississippiHas residency requirements, but open to residents and people who live out of state and work in the state such as nurses
MissouriHas residency requirements
MontanaNo residency required
NebraskaResidency required
NevadaNo residency required
New HampshireNo residency required after April 19.
New JerseyResidency required but is open to people who work or go to school in the state
New MexicoNo residency required
New YorkNo residency required
North CarolinaNo residency required
North DakotaNo residency required
OhioNo residency required
OklahomaNo residency required
OregonResidency required but open to people who work or attend school in the state
PennsylvaniaNo residency required
Rhode IslandResidency required but also open to people who work or go to school in the state
South CarolinaNo residency required
South DakotaResidency requirements for now until the vaccine is widespread
TennesseeNo residency required
TexasNo residency required
UtahResidency required
VermontResidency required but also open to people who work in the state
VirginiaNo residency required
WashingtonResidency required but also open to people who work in the state
West VirginiaResidency required but also open to people who work in the state
WisconsinResidency required but also open to people who work and study in the state
WyomingHas residency restrictions

Contact an Immigration Lawyer Before Traveling for the COVID-19 Vaccine

As said before, there is NO guarantee you will receieve a COVID vaccine if you travel to a state with no residency requriements but if you are willing to take the chance, you should contact an immigration professional.

Our immigration professionals will help you navigate the US immigration border and help you enter the US. We also can not guarantee you will receive the shot but we can help you enter the US on a legal visa.

Book a consultation today to talk about Vaccine Tourism.

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