Feb. 24—Idaho clamped down on access to its allotment of COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, requiring those who receive shots to show proof they live or work in the state.
Driver's licenses, student identification cards, utility bills and vouchers from employers are among the forms of verification that will be acceptable, said Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen on Tuesday at a media briefing.
Health care providers will have discretion in terms of what documentation they will allow, he said.
"We're not trying to create a barrier for those that live or work in Idaho, but we are trying to set an expectation ... you should get vaccinated in your home state," Jeppesen said.
The state is taking the stance at a time when the coronavirus still poses a threat partly because of new variants, he said.
A second case of the South African variant has been discovered in Idaho, said Dr. Christine Hahn, Idaho's state epidemiologist, but no details were available Tuesday.
The change in Idaho's approach to administering the vaccine is happening for a couple of reasons, Jeppesen said.
As of Monday, Idaho was the fifth-best state in the country for the percentage of vaccine that had been administered, compared with what it had received, he said.
So far, only a small volume, about 4,800, of 317,801 doses given as of Monday, went to people who didn't live or work in Idaho, Jeppesen said.
"Now that we have that capacity, we're starting to see some demand from other states that have more limited capacity to come here to get vaccinated," Jeppesen said.
At the same time, Idaho has been pushing for its allotment of the vaccine to be increased since it's based on population data that is about 2 years old and no longer valid, especially because Idaho is a rapidly growing state, he said.
"Idaho is actually receiving a little less than we should be," Jeppesen said. "It's something we have raised frequently with our federal partners, but that has not changed to date."
What Idaho did Tuesday mirrors how Washington is dispensing its vaccine, requiring recipients to live or work in the state.
In other coronavirus news:
The only new death in the region was in Whitman County, which reported one fatality as the number of cases in that jurisdiction climbed by two.
Elsewhere in southeastern Washington, Asotin County had two new cases while Garfield County didn't have any.
North central Idaho had 22 new cases Tuesday, with 16 in Latah County. Clearwater and Nez Perce counties had three new cases each.
People 65 and older who have not yet been vaccinated may be able to get appointments as early as Thursday if they live in north central Idaho, said Scott Schlegel, a spokesman for Public Health — Idaho North Central District.
The district is taking appointments for vaccinations that will be administered at its offices at 215 10th St. in Lewiston to residents of Nez Perce, Latah, Idaho, Clearwater and Lewis counties. Reservations for appointments are available by calling (208) 799-3100.
Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers criticized Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's handling of the vaccination distribution during comments Tuesday to the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, shared in a news release by her staff.
"After vaccinating all phase 1B tier 1 eligible people who wanted the vaccine, Whitman County was ready to vaccinate the next group: teachers," according to the news release.
But Inslee threatened to withhold vaccines if they proceeded, according to the news release.
"One school superintendent called the Governor's decision demoralizing," McMorris Rogers said in the news release. "I agree. We should be doing everything we can to get our kids back to school. That means supporting counties that are delivering the vaccine with efficiency and speed."
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