COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) — As efforts to bump teachers up to Phase 1a stall at the South Carolina State House, educators are heading north to get vaccinated.
Steve Nuzum and his wife made the trip up Interstate 77 Saturday to Charlotte, North Carolina. They scheduled appointments to get vaccinated in North Carolina once the state began vaccinating educators there last week.
“The process I did was all online,” said Nuzum. “It asked me for my county, my city. Nobody had a problem with us getting vaccinated, so that’s what we did.”
In North Carolina, providers have the final say if they’ll accept appointments for people living out of state. The state is currently in Phase 3 of its vaccination plan.
North Carolina has received 1 million more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government than South Carolina, according to data from both state health departments.
Nuzum said he wanted to get vaccinated ahead of his school district’s transition to face-to-face instruction five days a week later this month.
“I don’t want to be the one who gave them COVID and let them take it home to their family members and get really sick themselves,” he said.
Nicole Walker got her first dose Saturday as well. She said her second appointment is scheduled around the time her district is expected to return to five days of in-person instruction.
“It’s been very stressful to worry about the health and safety of my friends, family and colleagues,” she said. “It’s just a huge relief.”
Both Nuzum and Walker said they know they didn’t break any laws by crossing state lines, but they did think about the ethical dilemma.
Last week, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control officials told a panel of lawmakers they could start vaccinating teachers and school staff and the rest of the population in Phase 1b starting in mid- to late-March.
State senators passed a bill that would bump teachers and daycare workers to Phase 1a and begin vaccinations immediately. Sen. Shane Massey (R-District 25) said he’s not surprised to see teachers crossing state lines for vaccinations.
“It’s disappointing they’ve had to do that,” he said. “It’s a real failure in leadership. We’re not vaccinating our teachers and offering it to them without them having to go to North Carolina.”
Massey’s bill (S.516) is still in committee in the House, but its future is uncertain. Critics have said there just isn’t enough vaccine available right now.
Nuzum and Walker said they believe the longer South Carolina remains in 1a, the more teachers will cross state lines.
“It’s not a sustainable solution to the problem,” Nuzum said.