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(CMR) Florida has decided to stop “vaccine tourists” from being able to access the COVID-19 vaccine and will now require people to prove they reside in the state in order to be eligible for the much sought after shot. The policy change has come about after it was confirmed that over 40,965 non-residents received the vaccine.
Some health providers are now requesting patients to provide two documents that prove residence such as an ID and utility bill.
A public health advisory was signed Thursday by state Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees stipulating that all vaccine providers in Florida must satisfy themselves that recipients are either residents or people who are in the state “for the purpose of providing health care services”.
Anyone that received the first show will be exempt from this new requirement for the second shot. However, vaccine shortages have meant that those most in need such as senior and health care professionals are unable to get the vaccine.
Mount Sinai and Baptist Health have already been canceling appointments because of vaccine shortages. Florida is currently only vaccinating residents 65 and older along with frontline healthcare workers and residents and employees at long-term care facilities.
Governor Ron DeSantis had initially downplayed the reality of vaccine tourists and previously shared:
“I think it’s totally fine if they wanted to” be vaccinated, the Republican governor said at a recent news conference. “It’s not like they’re just vacationing for two weeks. … They have relationships with doctors. They get medical care in Florida. … So that’s a little bit different than somebody that’s just doing tourism.”
Despite that, there was mounting evidence it has happening. Vaccine eligibility criteria vary state by state.
In Cayman, there were also concerns that some non-eligible people were taking advantage of the easy access to the vaccine at the HSA.
Vaccine shortages have intensified all over the world but in particular, the USA where it is alleged that former President Trump's administration left no plan for the Biden administration. This has resulted in fractured communication at both the federal and state levels causing delays in distribution and ordering.
The CDC has set up a page for information on vaccine supply shortages.
On the international front, both Italy and Germany have also warned of vaccine shortages to last another six to eight weeks. The UK government has said it's too early to ease COVID-19 restrictions after a third major lockdown as recently implemented.
More than 56.7 million shots given worldwide. Cayman is expecting its next shipment of the Phizer vaccine next week.