“They are coming from Canada, Brazil, New York, Georgia, folks from Minneapolis have come here. Some friends of mine in St Petersburg [Florida] told me that they were in a vaccination line with people from Venezuela,” said Dr Jay Wolfson, a professor of public health at the University of South Florida.
He credits advertisements from international travel agencies with at least part of the vaccine tourist influx. “I get calls all the time from people saying, ‘Jay, can you get me in someplace?’ – and I can’t. And I won’t.”
Florida has been one of the most popular vaccine tourism destinations for domestic and international travelers alike, due to the state’s initial policy of vaccinating anyone over the age of 65 years old. The state recently implemented new ID rules in an attempt to direct more vaccines to Florida residents, but not before about 50,000 out-of-state recipients got a dose. Though some of these vaccine recipients are seasonal state residents, or snowbirds, whose decision to spend the winter in Florida was unrelated to their vaccination prospects, many thousands have come to the state just for a shot.