Florida State Surgeon General cracks down on vaccine tourism

Bay County

RN Connie Garcia extracts a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine which will be administered to a Texas Tech University Health Science Center student at Texas Tech University Health Science Center’s Academic Building Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Odessa, Texas. (Jacob Ford/Odessa American via AP)

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — State Surgeon General, Dr. Scott Rivkees, released an advisory on Thursday outlining residency requirements for the coronavirus vaccine.

In a report from the Florida Department of Health, more than 43,000 out-of-state vaccines have been distributed in the Sunshine State.

The advisory will now prevent some people from being able to cross state lines into Florida to get their vaccine.

“What that means, is we are going to be checking those people’s ID and of course the preferred method is for a person to have a driver’s license or a Florida ID,” said Florida Department of Health in Bay County Public Information Officer, Heather Kretzer. “The state does recognize there are some seasonal residents, and that is defined as somebody who lives here at least 31 days out of the year annually,” said Kretzer.

Residents must provide a driver’s license or a Florida issued I.D. at their vaccine appointment. However, seasonal residents have to meet a different set of requirements to get their vaccine such as providing bills or mail.

“That’s basically going to be things like their mortgage statement, any utility bills, any information like that, that they have for that residency or rental agreement but they have to have two forms for those particular instances,” said Kretzer.

Residents said they’re glad to see the new restrictions being put in place because they said they feel it is unfair that people are traveling from other states to get the coronavirus vaccine.

“It’s got to be good,” said Bay County resident, Earl Sawyer. “It’s bad for the people coming in wanting to get it here, but just let them deal with their own states and let them get it where they’re from.”

Bay County resident, William Robinson, said he had no idea people were coming in from out of state to get vaccinated.

“I think they need to get that taken care of in their own home state where the vaccines are sent to their home state and are distributed by their own state,” said Robinson. “I’ve been waiting several weeks to get an appointment and haven’t been able to thus far. If it’s been taken up by tourists, then I’m not sure I agree with that.”

Kretzer, as well as Bay County residents, said they love the area’s tourists and feel for those who aren’t able to get the vaccine right now.

“We want to be able to service our area folks and people in the state of Florida too,” said Kretzer. “So we understand why the surgeon general did that because we do want to be able to prioritize those persons but we also feel for those persons who aren’t able to access the vaccines yet wherever they live.”

Kretzer also mentioned part of the reason there is a need to prioritize residents is because vaccines are distributed based on population.

“So I can understand the need to prioritize those residents as those allocations that come from the federal level, are based on our population of our state and what comes to Bay County is based on the population of our Bay County seniors,” said Kretzer.

For the full list of new requirements, read below:

  • To prove residency an adult resident must provide a copy of his or her valid Florida driver license or a copy of a valid Florida identification card.  
  • Seasonal residents may provide a copy of two of the following to show proof of residential address: 
  1. A deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement, mortgage payment booklet or residential rental or lease agreement. 
  2. One proof of residential address from the season resident’s parent, step-parent or legal guardian or other person with whom the seasonal resident resides and a statement from the person with whom the seasonal resident resides stating that the seasonal resident does reside with him or her. 
  3. A utility hookup or work order dated within 60 days before registration. 
  4. A utility bill, not more than 2 months old. 
  5. Mail from a financial institution, including checking, savings, or investment account statements, not more than 2 months old. 
  6. Mail from a federal, state, county, or municipal government agency, not more than 2 months old. 
  • Seasonal resident means any person who temporarily resides in this state for a period of at least 31 consecutive days in each calendar year, maintains a temporary residence in this state, returns to the state or jurisdiction of his or her residence at least one time during each calendar year, and is registered to vote or pays income tax in another state or jurisdiction. 

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