COVID vaccine residency requirement presents a challenge for Florida “Snowbirds”

ORLANDO, Fla. — People over the age of 65 are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines being distributed by Publix stores in Florida, but they must have proof of residency.

“Snowbirds,” or people who migrate from colder parts of the country to warmer areas like Florida, have expressed concerns about which forms of identification will be accepted.

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Ron Kaczmarek and his wife have traveled between Florida and their permanent residence in Pennsylvania for the last two years.

“This time of the year, when it’s not really hot after 4 o’clock, we sit out until sunset out there and maybe have evening cocktails.”

Kaczmarek says they signed a three-month rental agreement for their residence in Summerfield, with utilities included, which presented a problem.

“I’m not going to get a utility bill, and there’s no other way for me to provide that second proof.”

Kaczmarek is referring to the documentation they have to provide if they want to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Florida.

After Governor Ron DeSantis limited doses to either part or full-time Florida residents, the state released guidelines for the forms of identification that would be acceptable.

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A valid Florida Driver’s License or identification card would be allowed.

If a person can’t provide either of those, the state requires two examples of documentation from four different categories. They are:

  • A deed, monthly mortgage statement, or lease agreement
  • A statement from the Florida resident with whom the person is staying
  • A utility hookup or work order, or utility bill from within the last 2 months
  • Mail from a financial institution or government agency, also from within the last 2 months

As for Kaczmarek’s problem, a spokesperson with the Department of Health says his lease should work since it does note that utilities are included.

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Next, Kaczmarek faces the challenge of actually securing an appointment to get the vaccine, which he says is no certainty.

“If I get any flack or any feedback, I’m going to ask for a supervisor and just explain myself and see what happens.”