You’ll now need to prove residency to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Florida
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Visitors hoping to score a COVID-19 vaccine in Florida will now have to prove residency in order to get on the wait list.
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The state of Florida cracked down on “vaccine tourism” Thursday, with Surgeon General Scott Rivkees now requiring proof of permanent or seasonal Florida residency in order to receive vaccinations.
“The Covid-19 vaccine remains scarce within the U.S., and vaccine availability in Florida is extremely limited,” Rivkees said in a statement announcing the new directive. Rivkees emphasized the importance of prioritizing the health of Floridians, since vaccine quantities are still severely limited for locals and visitors alike.
Vaccine seekers can prove residency by providing official documents such as driver licenses or mortgage statements for property owned in Florida. Healthcare workers who come in direct contact with patients, and workers in similar capacities such as first responders, are exempted from the residency requirement at this time.
Florida began offering the vaccine to people 65 and older, including nonresidents, in December 2020. The decision quickly led to a number of foreigners and winter vacationers taking advantage of the program, according to Miami newspaper The Sun-Sentinel, which highlighted a handful of individual offenders in addition to some rising trends in vaccine-driven travel. Locals have raised an outcry in response, with many senior citizens and healthcare professionals decrying the fact that rich visitors from elsewhere can exploit the loophole and “skip the line.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has discouraged travelers from visiting the state solely for the sake of scoring a vaccination. However, DeSantis has expressed support for vaccine seekers who own property in Florida but reside elsewhere for at least part of the year.
In execution, cities and counties are responsible for enforcing their own local policies. While Jackson Health System in Miami has yet to update its website’s frequently asked COVID-19 vaccine questions page to reflect the new policy, news outlets report that vaccinations now require either photo identification with birthdate, or two documents proving Florida residency, such as utility bills or tax documents.
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