With Canada's vaccination campaign lagging a long way behind the US, North Dakota has decided to step up and offer doses to its neighbors who cross the border for essential purposes. Up to 4,000 truck drivers from Manitoba will be offered COVID vaccines for free under a program announced Tuesday and the plan might be expanded to include energy workers, the BBC reports. "The US has got a lot of vaccines and Canada's got less," says North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. "We want to do our part to help those essential workers from Canada who are frequently travelling through our state." Burgum's office says the CDC confirmed that there is no ban on the state vaccinating non-citizens.
"In the small rural communities where we grew up, it was always about neighbors helping neighbors," Burgum said during a joint announcement with Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, per the Duluth News Tribune. Pallister said he hoped the program would "lay the groundwork" for a safe reopening of the border, which has been closed to nonessential travel for more than a year, reports CTV. The Washington Post notes that Canada is being hit hard by a third wave of COVID infections and frustration with the slow pace of vaccinations is growing. Only around 3% of adults in Canada have been fully vaccinated, compared to more than 25% across the border. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)