The practice of "vaccine tourism" will not be permitted in Florida, following reports that travelers were heading there as the state has made the COVID-19 vaccine available to people aged 65 and older.

While some of those making the trip own second homes in the state, it was alleged that others were travelers making short-term visits. This was supported by news reports featuring stories of people who claimed to have received the vaccination while vacationing in the Sunshine State. Florida will now require anyone seeking a COVID-19 vaccine in the state to verify their residency status, and its state surgeon general, Dr Scott Rivkees, issued a public health advisory requiring those distributing the vaccine to verify the status of those being vaccinated.

Eyes behind a vial of Covid-19 vaccination
Florida has made the COVID-19 vaccine available to people aged 65 and older © Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Prior to the ruling, Toronto-based private airline, Momentum Jets, told the Wall Street Journal that wealthy Canadians were willing to pay between $25,000 (€20,560) to $80,000 (€65,792) for same day, round-trip flights to Florida to receive their first dose of vaccine or set an appointment for one. However, Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, said during a press conference that the state is continuing to prioritize seniors for the vaccine but isn't making the jab available to visitors who don't own a home there.

The governor clarified that so-called “snowbirds,” or dual-state residents who spend the winters in Florida are permitted to get the vaccine. "Some of these nursing home people may live here six months of the year so that's a little bit different," he said. "We have people all over the country, because we put seniors first and because people actually see shots going in arms, you have literally people all over the world and all over the country calling here to see. We're not doing that, we're not doing it for tourists, we're not doing it for interlopers."

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