Residents of foreign countries have obtained COVID vaccinations in Florida, taking advantage of the state’s loose rules on who can get a shot. The list includes a prominent Argentine lawyer, business leaders, and Canadians whose home countries restrict vaccines to first-responders, medical personnel, and a few other groups.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has extended the opportunity for vaccinations to anyone 65 or over — even though there are supplies for only a fraction of that age group — and imposed no residency requirements.
Ana Rosenfeld, a celebrity lawyer in Argentina, came to Miami in December with her husband on a family visit, according to the Argentine publication Teleshow. When the vaccine became available, they found a slot in a town near Tampa and signed up.
“I always wanted to get the vaccine,” the 66-year-old lawyer told Teleshow. “If I would have had the possibility of doing it in Argentina, I would have done it.”
The Buenos Aires newspaper Clarín reported that another dozen or so of corporate executives have made the trip to Florida for vaccinations. “It’s free and it’s not necessary to be a resident, only to be 65 years old and not have received any other vaccinations in the past 14 days,” the newspaper said.
A corporate president made the trip one weekend to get the Pfizer vaccine. “It’s not illegal at all, it’s only necessary to have money,” said the executive.
Their arrival comes as state residents continue to confront long lines and frustrating encounters with overwhelmed telephone systems and websites for a chance at the precious injections.
Jason Mahon, spokesman for the Florida Department of Health, said “All Florida residents and non-residents who meet the current eligibility requirements can be vaccinated in Florida.”
The only restriction he mentioned was that the recipient must be present to receive the second dose, which is typically administered three or four weeks later.
“It is absolutely not permitted for someone to come into Florida for one day to receive the vaccine and leave the next,” he said. “We ask that all suspected incidents be reported to the appropriate county health department immediately.”
It’s not clear whether significant vaccine tourism is happening or whether it’s simply people, such as seasonal Canadian visitors, who happened to be here at the time and are signing up for vaccines like everyone else.