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Florida’s may be attracting COVID-19 vaccine tourists by not seeking proof of residence

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Amid a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, Florida’s lack of proof of residence requirement could be attracting COVID-19 vaccine tourists.

Judy Wolff, of Fort Lauderdale, is eager to receive the first dose of the vaccine. The 73-year-old grandmother said she can’t wait to see her grandchildren.

Wolff has been trying to get an appointment for nearly two weeks. She is upset because she knows eight people from New York who are flying to South Florida just for the vaccine.

Although these are family and friends, Wolff doesn’t think that’s fair.

“I feel they are stealing our vaccinations,” she said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said earlier this week that Florida is a transient state, so snowbirds, seasonal travelers who find haven in South Florida to avoid cold winters back home, shouldn’t have a problem accessing the vaccine if they are age 65 or older.

Mireille Gaouette thinks that’s great but she also hasn’t been able to have access to the vaccine. The 75-year-old snowbird from Quebec, Canada, considers Broward County to be a second home. She has been traveling back and forth for 23 years.

“We are discouraging people who come to Florida just to get a vaccine,” DeSantis said.

Wolff said she knows that’s not true and it’s hurting many of the seniors who call Florida home.

“Every time I go there, it says, ‘Up and coming appointments are full’ and ‘Please try back,’ yet there are people from New York getting through?” Wolff said.

Jackson Health System in Miami-Dade County and Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County require photo identification, but only to verify the age requirement.

Local 10 News has a pending request with The Florida Department of Health for data on the number of non-Florida residents who are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.