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TROUBLESHOOTERS: Washington state man denied COVID-19 vaccine at Peoria Kroger

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PEORIA (HOI) -- Recently retired and with nothing holding him back, Rick Hickman made the trip from Washington state to Illinois in December 2019.

"Thought I'd come visit, just to hang out here for a little while. See family...See things I've only read about in school books. No sooner did I get here and whammo."

He ended up in the hospital twice and was diagnosed with respiratory failure.

A few months later the word coronavirus became part of our vocabulary.

With the CDC advising against travel, Hickman chose to stay.

"My current health conditions...just couldn't do it. Was not going to be around anybody and still am fairly well isolated and hoping for the best."

Last month he scheduled an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine at Kroger on North Lindbergh Road in Peoria, thinking he was eligible.

"When the lady looked at my drivers license she said you're not a resident of Illinois, so therefore I cannot administer the vaccine. I was kind of in a little bit of dismay and I said what and she said it's state law."

Hickman said he understands states only get so many vaccines, but he feels because we're in a national pandemic, if you're willing to roll up your sleeve you should be able to get vaccinated wherever you are.

"Common sense was totally absent from this scenario and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I can't be the only one."

Each state can decide if they want to vaccinate resident only or give a shot to anyone.

As far as what Illinois decided, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Public Health said in part:

"While local health departments did have the choice to limit vaccinations to residents, pharmacies were open to all. If a person schedules an appointment and is not able to provide proof of residency, they should still be vaccinated." -Melaney Arnold, Public Information Officer for IDPH

So then why was Hickman turned away from Kroger?

Below is the full statement from Kroger.

"Kroger pharmacists were among the first healthcare providers to offer vaccinations in Illinois. Since then, we have administered thousands of doses across the state. Early concerns about local distribution eased as the federal government expanded the availability of the vaccines. We have always done our best to serve patients in Illinois and beyond, and will continue to do so, because our priority is the health of our communities." -Eric Halvorson, Manager of Corporate Affairs at Kroger

Since he was denied a vaccine, Hickman has received both doses of the Pfizer shot thanks to the help of his local doctors, for which he says he's grateful.

His grandparents survived the Spanish flu and he's trying to make it past COVID-19.

He said if he were to catch the virus he doesn't think he could overcome it.

That's why he doesn't plan to head back to Washington state anytime soon, despite the fact that the CDC says if you're fully vaccinated you can resume domestic travel without having to test before or after or self-quarantine after your trip.

"Being a dead grandpa isn't an option that I'm interested in."

Jessica Cook

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