‘Vaccine tourism’: People are flying to Florida for COVID-19 vaccine shots

ORLANDO, Fla. — With Florida opening up vaccination registration to anyone 65 and up with no proof of residency required, some people in the state are concerned about “vaccine tourism.”

A lot of people have also brought up the topic of “snowbirds,” or people who come to Florida from the north to escape from the freezing temperatures every year.

Many have homes in Florida, so state leaders said they should be able to get the vaccine.

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But one travel agent said most people decided to skip snowbird season this year because of COVID-19 and stay in Canada.

Then when they heard they could get the vaccine in the Sunshine State, they changed their minds and started calling him to secure that trip and get their travel insurance.

“November is my period where snowbirds head down south,” said Toronto travel agent Martin Firestone.

But this year, 70% of his clients said they would skip this snowbird season and stay up in Canada rather than come to Florida.

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“They basically said it’s too much of a risk. I worry terribly about ending up sick and having a problem,” Firestone said.

Two months later, the phone calls are coming by the hundreds with people who want to get their coronavirus shot in Florida.

“They basically are making arrangements now and purchasing travel insurance and heading south to get the vaccine,” Firestone said. “And that is the sole motivator for them heading down south at this point.”

Firestone said his clients could be classified as Florida residents because they have owned homes, condos or apartments in the state for years.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “We’re discouraging people to come to Florida just to get a vaccine.”

But that’s what Firestone’s clients are doing.

But Canadian leaders have caught on to what people are doing and said, “This is not the time for a vacation abroad.”

There is currently a level 3 travel advisory in Canada.