Some teachers who live across state lines are trapped in vaccine limbo

By ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Despite a federal directive to states to prioritize vaccinating educators, some teachers who work in Maine are still unable to get a vaccine.

Particularly, teachers who live across state lines in New Hampshire, but who work in Maine, haven’t been able to get vaccinated in either state.

Melanie Allen, who teaches English at Fryeburg Academy in Maine, lives a few miles across the state border in New Hampshire. Allen, 45, isn’t eligible to get a vaccine in New Hampshire because she doesn’t teach there. But she’s also ineligible in Maine, where “only Maine residents are eligible to receive a vaccine in Maine at this time,” according to the Maine CDC.

Maine’s residency requirement for vaccination is “in response to the federal government’s allocation of doses to states based on population,” a Maine CDC spokesperson told ABC News in a statement. Maine’s strategy is focused on vaccinating older residents most at risk for COVID-19 illness and death.

“Residents of Maine employed by schools in other states are eligible for vaccination here, while residents of other states who work in Maine schools or licensed child care programs are advised to check on vaccination options in the state where they reside,” the spokesperson added.

“On one hand, I feel like it’s Maine’s responsibility to vaccinate me because I work in a Maine school,” Allen told ABC Portland affiliate WMTW. “But it really doesn’t matter. I would just like to be offered the same benefit that my colleagues are being offered.”

Allen said that more than a dozen of her colleagues had run into the same eligibility issue when they tried to register for a vaccine.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden directed states to prioritize educators for vaccinations. “We want every educator, school staff member, child care worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March,” Biden said during a White House news briefing on March 2.

“Let’s treat in-person learning like an essential service that it is,” Biden said. “That means getting essential workers who provide that service — educators, school staff, child care workers — get them vaccinated immediately.”

Maine opened eligibility to teachers who are also state residents, regardless of age, the day after Biden issued his directive.

“I share the president’s desire to vaccinate school staff and child care workers as quickly as possible, just as I want to see all Maine people vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement.

“We will continue to work day and night with our health care providers to get shots into as many arms as possible, as quickly as possible, focusing our efforts on those most at risk of dying if they contract the virus.”

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