Police were called to a Waterford CVS after a group of about 10 out-of-staters who drove to Connecticut to get the COVID-19 vaccine was turned away because they didn't meet state requirements, officials said.
The group consisted primarily of people who, because they are 75 or older, would be eligible for the vaccine under the state's Phase 1b guidance if they lived or worked in the state. However, because they do not meet that criteria, they were told they couldn't get the vaccine when they showed up at CVS after registering online.
The Ledge Light Health District called police after they were made aware of the situation by the Department of Public Health.
Police said officers arrived at CVS to deliver the final word that the out-of-state visitors could not get their vaccines and they needed to leave.
It was a frustrating day for Brenda Warsaw, her husband and her 86-year-old mother from Thiells, N.Y., who were three people in the group that said they drove to Waterford to get the vaccine.
“It’s really quite disheartening when you got so excited about getting something and to be turned away,” said Warsaw.
After a desperate search for vaccine appointments, Warsaw said, she had been directed online to the Connecticut pharmacy and after confirming several times, took off Thursday morning. She said CVS told her she was good to go.
But when it was almost their time for a shot, the family was told they were actually not eligible because they were from out-of-state and did not work in Connecticut.
“I said, 'I checked. I went over this a number of times and I don’t understand why,'” said Warsaw.
Warsaw said her mother was turned away along with another group of New Yorkers.
CVS representative Tara Burke said there is nothing in the system that stops someone from registering for the vaccine, even if they live in another state. So if that person does not meet that state's requirements, they will be turned away when arriving for the appointment.
Before people register for a vaccination appointment, this is the message that will appear, according to Burke:
Individuals must live or work in Connecticut, and must also meet one of the following criteria:
- You are 75 years of age or older; or
- A healthcare worker who faces risk of exposure to COVID-19; or
- A medical first responder who faces risk of exposure to COVID-19; or
- A long-term care facility staff member; or
- A long-term care facility resident
We recognize the high demand for COVID-19 vaccines. As more supply becomes available and eligibility expands, we look forward to increasing access to vaccinations in more stores and to more people.
Connecticut has a reciprocal agreement with surrounding states to vaccinate people who meet eligibility requirements and live or work in that state, according to Connecticut Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe. However, someone who does not live or work in Connecticut is not eligible to receive a vaccine here, Geballe said at a news conference on Thursday, reiterating previous guidance from the state.
Burke said it is the patient's responsibility to read all criteria and make sure they meet the state's requirements before registering for the vaccine using CVS's system. CVS must rely on people to read and follow the state's guidelines when registering, Burke said.
As far as Thursday's incident, there were no arrests or altercations and everyone remained civil and calm, according to police.
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