Tourism is one of Florida’s largest industries. From theme parks in the center of the state to hundreds of miles of beaches on both coasts, modern and historic cities large and small, and everything in between, the state hosted nearly 132 million visitors in 2019 alone, and they, in turn, added somewhere around $80 billion in tax revenue to government coffers.
So yeah, tourism is a huge deal to Florida. However, there’s a new type of tourism that’s recently come to the Sunshine State that government regulators, and its residents, want no part of.
It’s called “vaccination tourism.”
Like every other state out there, Florida is doing its part to vaccinate its citizens against coronavirus. Governor DeSantis decided not to follow the CDC’s guidelines on who should get vaccinated first, second, etc., but made his own rules. So at this time, the only people who are supposed to be eligible to get the vaccines are:
- Long-term care facility residents and staff
- Persons 65 years of age and older
- Health care personnel with direct patient contact
- Persons deemed to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by hospital providers
However, there have been no requirements for residency to get a vaccine.
It was one thing when people from one county were going to another county to get their COVID vaccine – it might have been easier to get it in a county where you have to sign up vs. another county where it was first-come-first-served (which yes, meant that senior citizens were lined up for hours in the hopes of getting their vaccination). Other reports were coming in – people from foreign countries such as Argentina and Canada were traveling to Florida just to get the vaccine.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Interest is up sharply from Canadians who are looking to travel to the U.S. for vaccinations, according to Momentum Jets, a private jet service provider in Toronto.
“We’re getting requests now from clients that are willing to fly into Florida, if they have an appointment, and then fly home again on the same day,” said Janelle Brind, a company vice president. Costs for a charter flight range from $25,000 to $80,000 for a same-day round trip, she said.
As per data from the Florida Department of Health, over 39,000 people (3.5%) of the nearly 1.2 million people who have gotten the COVID vaccine in Florida so far, live somewhere besides Florida.
Meanwhile, COVID vaccines are in extremely short supply, which means tens of thousands of eligible Florida residents have not been able to get their vaccine because rich people from other nations signed up, flew in, got their shot and flew back home.
Above: Yanina Latorre is an Argentinian TV personality with 1.5 million Instagram followers. Two of her fans helped her get a vaccine for her mother, age 80, in Miami. They flew back to Argentina when they were done.
However, that’s all going to change now.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Florida government has developed guidelines to stop COVID “vaccination tourism.”
From the Sentinel: “Under the new rules, residents [getting a vaccine] will need to provide a valid Florida driver license or Florida identification card; a deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement, mortgage payment booklet or residential rental or lease agreement; a statement from a relative, legal guardian or other Florida resident with whom the person is living, as well as that person’s proof of residency; a utility bill or utility hookup work order; mail from a financial institution; or mail from a federal, state, county or municipal government agency.”
So yeah…you’ll have to show proof of residency to get a shot from here on in. Florida is all about tourism, but nope, not vaccination tourism.
Feature Photo: pxhere
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary