Florida COVID-19 vaccine roll out: Debate continues over whether residents should get priority over visitors

ORLANDO, Fla. — In recent weeks, a debate has arisen over whether COVID-19 vaccine doses distributed in Florida should be going solely to Florida residents or just to anyone who shows up for a vaccine appointment.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said that the state is not vaccinating tourists, but also said the fact that people are coming from out of state to receive the vaccine shows that the state’s rollout of the doses has gone well.

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He also said that while he’s discouraging tourists from getting vaccine doses in Florida, he won’t stop it.

When sign-ups for vaccines opened up in Sumter County, proof of residency was not required. A man Channel 9 spoke with said that when he got his shot, nobody asked where he was from.

But there is confusion over which organization put the residency rule in place.

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State officials say it’s a federal rule, but the CDC says that it’s up to individual states.

DeSantis said that, while he doesn’t want people who don’t live in Florida to come to the state to get vaccines, there are so many out-of-staters who spend winters in Florida that it only makes sense to get as many of them vaccinated as possible.

READ: These Publix stores will offer the COVID-19 vaccine

Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.