The tourism industry has been down across the board pretty much since the beginning of the pandemic. (The exception is national parks which have been doing a booming business.) But there’s another type of tourism that’s clearly on the rise and not everyone is a fan of it. “Vaccine tourism” is now a thing, and Texas is seeing a significant increase in people coming from across the country to try to get jabbed in the arm. At one recent mass vaccination at a motor speedway, the number of out-of-staters wasn’t all that huge, but people were coming from as far away as Pennsylvania and Florida. (CBS Dallas-Ft. Worth)
Competitive people were willing to drive across the country to get a shot at Texas Motor Speedway on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
“We vaccinated over 9,100 folks from states as far away as Pennsylvania, Colorado, Louisiana, and right next door in Oklahoma,” said Denton County Judge Andy Eads.
In total, 11 people came to TMS from out-of-state to get vaccinated:
2 who flew in from Colorado
1 from Florida
1 from Louisiana
1 from Pennsylvania
and 6 from neighboring Oklahoma
As I said, eleven people out of more than 9,000 obviously isn’t an army, but this phenomenon is being reported at vaccination sites across the state and they do add up after a while. Karen Kaiser, the nurse quoted in the CBS report, isn’t making a big deal about it. She’s quoted as saying, “This is really no time to be the vaccine police.”
I suppose that’s a healthy and generous attitude to have, providing the centers aren’t running out of doses for residents. But the entire strategy of vaccine distribution from the beginning was based on allocations to the states based on population. Texas is getting more doses of the vaccines than all but a few states, but that’s because they’ve got so many more people to vaccinate.
With that said, I suppose seeing the vaccine doses going to Americans from other states is still better than people day-tripping over the borders from Mexico and Canada. There’s no excuse for tolerating vaccine tourism from other countries until everyone in the United States who wishes to be immunized has had the opportunity.
Meanwhile, a separate report estimates that the total number of people who have crossed state lines to be vaccinated is already more than 10,000. One of the most popular destinations for this is Florida. Residents report standing in line with people from Venezuela and Brazil.
The New York Times refers to these people as “vaccine hunters.” According to their report, you are unlikely to find yourself in legal trouble if you get a vaccination in a different state. But medical experts they interviewed described the maneuver as unethical. Personally, I’m not planning on getting one of those shots until at least the middle of summer, assuming I’m “eligible” they have enough doses. But when if I do, I’ll stick to my home state to do it.