While many of us are eager to learn how a general rollout will work, for one specific community, it’s more a question of where. “Digital nomads” are professionals who leverage telecommuting to remain in a perpetually remote state, devoid of a home base. The lifestyle has actually grown throughout the pandemic, leaving a large number of wanderers wondering if they will find a way to get their shot.
If you’re living on the road, or are just temporarily relocated, you might have questions. We’ve got answers from medical experts and travelers living the experience themselves.
Use tools to plan ahead
If you’re residing in a state other than the one that issued you an ID, vaccination is still well within reach. “Try all of the local pharmacies,” advises Bernadette Boden-Albala, dean of the program in public health at the University of California at Irvine. “They seem to have less restrictions on residency as opposed to the county and state-run ‘Super POD’ sites.”
Plan ahead by utilizing online resources such as Vaccine Spotter — which actively scans pharmacies in all 50 states along with DC, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — to let you know of up-to-the-minute availabilities. Even if you are headed to a government-run facility, make sure you are honest if asked about state of residency.
“In most places, it shouldn’t matter where you are living so long as you’re employed there,” adds Boden-Albala. “We’re not in a scarcity, we have a surplus of vaccines now. So everybody that wants one should be able to get it — you just need to be persistent.”
Certain states offer apps to determine eligibility, such as this popular one in New York. “Our goal is to put shots in arms as quickly and equitably as possible,” a spokesperson for the state’s health department said in an email. “New York’s COVID-19 vaccination program is for all eligible New Yorkers and non-residents who are employed or study in New York State.”
Explore your options in person and map out a second shot
Don’t let your journeying present a roadblock to immunization. Instead, follow the lead of Laura Grier, a professional photographer who has remained itinerant for much of the past year. After touching down in D.C. on a recent work trip, she drove out to rural parts of Virginia to find a CVS Pharmacy that would add her to a wait list.
“You have to do it in person; you can’t get on the list over the phone,” she warns. “But once you’re on it, they’ll call you when they have leftover vaccines at the end of the day — usually between 5:30 and 7 p.m. I was able to get a shot within four days of getting my name on that list.”
And though it’s highly recommended to get your first and second doses at the same location (to help sites manage supply), it is not mandated by law. In an email, a representative from CVS Health said those looking for a second shot “can book appointments in different states, as long as they meet state eligibility requirements.”
Be aware of complications abroad
Those living abroad are confronted with a far more challenging set of circumstances. “If you’ve taken out health insurance in the country you’re hanging out in, you have a better chance,” according to Boden-Albala. If not, you might need to board a flight back home when seeking immunization. Particularly if you live in Europe, which is struggling with a relatively problematic rollout.
Yolanda Evans, a freelance writer working remotely in Ireland, is eager to repatriate — at least temporarily. She views it as an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones she has missed while abroad. “I’m looking forward to seeing my family, as it’s been two years,” she explains. “Also, I just want to have some peace of mind from getting my shot. My mom gave me the link to register [back in the U.S.] and I plan to do that when I get closer to my departure date.”
Consider volunteering opportunities
Jake Emen is a roving freelancer based in Arizona during the pandemic. But his driver’s license reads Maryland at the top, and his insurance is issued through California. So to get the vaccine in the Grand Canyon state, he opted to help others before helping himself.
“I heard about an organization called HandsOn Phoenix that was running the volunteer operation at State Farm Stadium — one of the largest in the country,” he explains. “All volunteers, regardless of eligibility otherwise [or statehood], received a shot and would be scheduled for their second dose as well.”
These opportunities are coveted, though, and securing a shift can be tricky. Emen followed the group on social media and enabled news alerts. After receiving a pop-up notification for an opening, he pounced, securing a shift for himself as well as his sister. Volunteering for eight hours, he recalls working alongside someone who flew into the state specifically to make use of the program’s inoculative perk.
“I checked people into the site and screened them for any potential disqualifying issues or concerns,” he recalls of the job. “It was incredibly rewarding, and I’ve since signed up to volunteer again.” If you’re on the road and searching for a volunteer and vaccination opportunity, conduct an Internet search. Most states operate some similar form of this program.
Ultimately, you might be looking at a little extra time spent on the road. But for people who have defined their professional careers through traveling, this might actually serve as selling point.
“I have friends who are digital nomads who traveled two to three hours to get vaccines and have gotten them,” Boden-Albala says. “The most important thing is to get them — now.”