Florida limits COVID-19 vaccine to state residents only
After weeks of railing against "vaccine tourism," state officials took action Thursday to limit the scant supply of COVID-19 vaccine to full-time and part-time residents — a move that follows action already taken by some local governments.
Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, saying the vaccine is so scarce, issued an executive order requiring people seeking an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine to provide proof of residency, or proof of being a health care provider directly involved with patients.
Until now, a person only needed to prove they were 65 or older.
The criteria for residency mentioned by Rivkees in his order, is under a statute that outlines residency requirements for the state's medical marijuana residency, and specifically includes people who spend at least 31 consecutive days a year here and maintain a permanent residenc
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Anecdotal reports have circulated that people are flying in from other states to get the vaccine here in Florida, a practice that Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz found "abhorrent" but also evidence that Florida was doing something right.
Rivkees told lawmakers last week that there was little the state could do to restrict who can get the vaccine because it's a federally allocated product.
Rivkees, Moskowitz and Gov. Ron DeSantis said that snowbirds, people who live here for several months, pay taxes and contribute to the economy, should be allowed to get the vaccine, even though there have been complaints of jumping ahead of locals.
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"We want to put seniors first, but we obviously want to put people that live here first in line," DeSantis said during a news conference in Viera Wednesday. "And that can include people that live here half the year. But it's not for people that are just visiting."
The state keeps track of where people come from, with about 41,000 of the 1.2 million people vaccinated so far from out of state.
Contact USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida reporter Jeffrey Schweers at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jeffschweers.
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