‘Vaccine vacations’: How some are shelling out big bucks for vacation packages promising COVID-19 vaccines

ORLANDO, Fla. — International travel is off the table for most Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. But those with enough money are still jet setting abroad not only for pleasure, but now to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

NYU professor Arthur Caplan said it is happening all over the world — people who can afford the big-budget price tag are booking vaccine vacations to far off places.

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“I know that people who have gone to Saudi Arabia, UAE, now you have to be pretty rich and have a lot of free time to do it, but I know people have done it,” Caplan said.

One website out of India called zenithholidays.com has a section for vaccine tourism.

Channel 9 reported Shannon Butler discovered after you enter your information and the time you wish to travel, you receive an email with information on the trips available.

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You can get a four-day stay along with a vaccine for about $2,000, but the company warns that they are still waiting on approval and say they will keep you updated.

Another package to the UK offers even more. There’s options for a six-day trip to London or a 22-day stay in the UK.

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The flyer says the trips include airfare; breakfast and sightseeing; and a COVID-19 safety kit, but they can’t guarantee price or availability of the vaccine.

There are also reports of a private club out of the UK that will also book vaccine vacations for their members for the price of $25,000.

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Caplan said these kinds of offers could be fake, so he cautions buyers to do their research.

“Some of those are already scams; there is not going to be an appointment and you are not going anywhere,” he said.

Some travel agents said they’ve seen an increase of the number of people booking trips to the U.S. to receive the vaccine.

READ: Here’s where to find the COVID-19 vaccine in your county

Toronto-based travel agent Martin Firestone said he gets hundreds of calls from people asking him to book them a trip to the U.S.

“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.”

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After originally allowing anyone who showed up or made an appointment to receive the vaccine in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis changed the state’s policy to only allow state residents to get the shots here.

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.