Miami mayor, Francis Suarez, has been one of the more vocal advocates for state COVID-19 residency requirements. In what he is calling the “Miami first” plan, Suarez wants to transform Marlin’s Park, one of the more popular vaccination centers in south Florida, into one that is exclusively for those inside the Miami city limits.
However, one thing has been made very clear: Federal regulations will not be allowing any residency requirements for receiving the vaccine.
The director of Florida’s Emergency Management, Jared Moskowitz, made statements against residency requirements. He explains how in Florida, a residency requirement would be irresponsible due to the plethora of fiscally constrained counties and transient populations.
Regardless of the county you reside in, people will move around and spread the virus.
Miami-Dade commissioner Eileen Higgins made similar remarks stating, “We shouldn’t allow municipal borders to limit a person’s access to life-saving vaccines based on which side of the street they live on.”
Such opinions have concerned Suarez due to the increase of vaccine tourism in Miami. Vaccine tourism has been coined to refer to the foreigners who travel to any part of Florida to get the vaccine.
One of the more controversial examples of such comes from Argentinian television host Yanina Latorre. Latorre posted an image her mother receiving the vaccine at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Instagram. What bothered many is how they both live and reside in Buenos Aires.
However, not all vaccine tourists are celebrities. A large spike in snowbirds have been flocking across Florida.
Surprisingly, a vast number have been Canadians with the demand for a same-day round trip charter flight, which has increased vastly over the production of the vaccine. Likewise, Travel Secure statistics have reported a 30% increase in their clientele of snowbirds who traveled to the southern U.S. in the past months.
Florida has only been able to distribute a third of its vaccinations. Statistically speaking, that is only enough to vaccinate roughly 2% of the state’s population.
Such issues lead to a prevalent rift in the elderly community who are being met with a myriad of concerns.
One of the largest hassles has been the ability to schedule an appointment. Large scale website crashes have met seniors who try to schedule an appointment online.
Not only is it a hassle for older adults to get an appointment, drive to the vaccination center, and wait in line for hours, but many are then being turned away from the lack of vaccinations. This could be indirectly due to the increase in vaccine tourism to Florida.
This has then caused considerable frustration from older Floridians regarding the ‘no residency’ requirement.
However, patience is absolutely necessary, especially through a presidential transition. The vaccination program is consistently ramping up, allowing for an additional 250,000 vaccines in the coming weeks.
If there is one thing is for certain, it is that COVID-19 doesn’t care how old you are, where you are from, or where you live.
Featured image: The National Guard. Unmodified image by Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin used under a Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/2LH4NaY)
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