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Health officials warn against these 'vaccine hunting' behaviors

Health officials discuss "vaccine hunting" behaviors, including shopping around for a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Despite a third COVID-19 vaccine coming on the market and increased allocations of the other two products, in the Carolinas, demand for vaccine still exceeds supply.

With those conditions, come some predictable behaviors.

"Vaccine hunting clearly does occur," Nick Davidson, Senior Deputy for Public Health with South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control, said. "Whenever there's not enough of something, people are going to look for wherever they can get it, as soon as they can get it."

While the intention itself is not problematic, Davidson and other health officials note that the ways it can manifest could be.

RELATED: Mecklenburg County to open more COVID-19 vaccine appointments Thursday

"There seems to be a tendency for people to hunt if they don't have a second appointment when they leave their first," Davidson said.

Davidson said this is why he and other health officials urge people to make those second-dose appointments when they make their first one or before their leave their first appointment. They also prefer if people would stick to the same provider for both doses.

Do you have to get both COVID-19 vaccine doses at the same place?

While, technically, it is permissible to get two vaccine doses at different locations, it is also logistically problematic for patients and providers.

Dr. Meg Sullivan, Medical Director for Mecklenburg Public Health, said the main reason is that the state allocates second doses to sites based on the number of first doses given there. Not only is the provider expecting someone to return to the same place for the second shot, but there is also no guarantee another provider will carry the same brand vaccine needed to complete a person's series.

"We strongly, strongly, strongly encourage: individuals should be getting their second dose where they got their first dose," Sullivan said.

Vaccine providers are also trying to curb other "hunting" behaviors.

"We also see a lot of people coming to our events and sites believing that we'll always have extra doses," Nikki Nissen, Novant Health's Chief Nursing Officer, said. "Unfortunately, that's simply not true. Every dose we have on-site accompanies a person with an appointment."

Finally, health officials ask people to avoid carrying multiple vaccine appointments at once. A person might do this as they weigh which location and time work best for them.

Health officials ask people holding several vaccine slots to make sure to cancel unneeded appointments, so someone else can have it.

If you have a vaccine-related question, let our team find you an answer. Text your question to (704) 329-4600.