Florida has been campaigning for ‘vaccine tourism’ after Governor Ron DeSantis said the state would only offer doses of the coronavirus to residents.
Dr. Florida surgeon general Scott Rivkees on Thursday signed a public health advisory with rules requiring vaccine providers to confirm that patients live in the state, either full or part time. The move is in response to reports from people traveling to states like Florida to get the vaccine, while it is being slow to implement in parts of the US and other countries.
The order states that doses “remain scarce” in the US and that “availability in Florida is extremely limited.”
Officials in some provinces had already warned this week that vaccinations would be limited to Floridians and seasonal residents in the future.
In Seminole County, north of Orlando, anyone who wants the vaccine must be able to prove they own or rent property in Florida, such as a driver’s license, utility bill, or rent payment, Emergency Management Director Alan Harris told the Orlando Sentinel.
Local reports also indicated that Volusia, Brevard and Manatee counties would introduce similar requirements.
Visitors account for a small fraction of the doses administered in Florida so far. According to a daily report from the state’s health department, more than 1.1 million people have received at least one dose, and 39,214 of them – or 3.5 percent – are not from the state.
Still, officials have raised concerns about people taking quick trips to Florida to get vaccinated.
“To just come in from another country or whatever, we don’t support that, nor will we allow it,” Mr DeSantis said on Tuesday. “We don’t do” vaccine tourism. “
The crackdown does not apply to hibernators who live in the Sunshine State for at least part of the year.
“We want to put seniors first, but of course we want to put the people who live here first,” said the governor. “And that can also be people who have lived here for six months. But it is not for people visiting alone. “
Florida, a popular destination for “ hibernators ” from the US and Canada, opened its vaccination program to people over 65 in late December, in violation of federal guidelines that at the time gave equal attention to those over 75 and workers considered essential, such as supermarket employees. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rolled out last week, urging all states to vaccinate seniors.
This post has been updated with the Florida Surgeon General’s public health advice.