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Florida clamps down on vaccine tourism

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Sunshine State is cracking down on vaccine tourism.

“Vaccine tourism” is when people from outside of a state or country travel to a location solely to take advantage of its available vaccines. The new trend has become a big problem in Florida.

The Department of Health said Wednesday, of the 1.18 million people vaccinated, nearly 41,000 have out-of-state addresses.

As Florida residents struggle to get appointments for COVID-19 vaccines, many are opposed to seeing the already limited supply go to people who don’t live in the state.

Despite originally downplaying reports of vaccine tourism, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is know backing a new directive preventing the trend from continuing.

Pointing to limited amounts of COVID-19 vaccine, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees issued an advisory Thursday aimed at limiting vaccinations to residents and health-care workers.

Under Rivkees’ advisory, providers would have to check to make sure intended vaccine recipients are Florida residents or people in Florida to provide health-care services that involve direct contact with patients.

The two-page advisory said, in part, that “the COVID-19 vaccine remains scarce within the United States and vaccine availability in Florida is extremely limited.”

However, since Florida is known for its part-time residents, like people from Northern states dodging winter, millionaires with vacation homes and well-to-do middle classers with a timeshare or condo. Those people would still qualify as a “seasonal resident.” Still, restrictions apply.

A seasonal resident qualifies if the person has lived in the state for at least 31 consecutive days per year and can prove it.

Seasonal residents who do not have a Florida I.D. will now have to show at least two of the three options:

  • a deed, mortgage, or lease agreement.
  • a utility bill, mail from a bank or other financial institution, not more than 2 months old.
  • if you stay with someone during your residential visits, that person must provide proof of their address and a statement confirming