Florida eliminated residency requirement to get vaccinated against coronavirus

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Vaccination without residence request began in Florida. (Photo: EFE / EPA / CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH)

Those over 16 can get vaccinated in Florida since Friday without proof of residence, as announced by health authorities. This measure opens the way to the immunization of undocumented people and, in fact, facilitates “vaccine tourism” in the southern state of the United States, since tourists will also be able to access doses against the coronavirus.

In January, when many cases of tourists traveling especially to get immunized began to appear, Florida imposed the residency test as a requirement to receive the injection.

Measure affected undocumented workers, who often do not have a driver’s license, contracts or invoices in their name, so legislators and activists asked Governor Ron DeSantis to remove this barrier.

Now that more than six million people have been vaccinated in Florida and the demand is much lower, the Health Department reversed its January decision.

The vaccine will be available to anyone “who is a resident or present in Florida with the purpose of offering goods or services for the benefit of residents and visitors to the state,” the Florida Department of Health said Thursday night.

This allow people without papers to access the vaccine just by stating, verbally, that they live in the state or provide a service here.

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Miami-Dade Democratic Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava celebrated this turnaround on Friday. “It is a victory for all of us who call our community home,” he wrote on Twitter.

In fact, the decision will also facilitate the so-called “vaccine tourism” that the obstacles imposed in January were intended to contain and that generated a backtracking from the mayor of North Miami Beach.

“Yes you can come here to North Miami Beach. We have a large population of international people who have been able to come with their passports and an address here local, “said Anthony DeFillipo, the mayor of that town, in a Facebook Live with interviewers in Colombia.

His apparent invitation to all Latin Americans to travel to get vaccinated was spread with enthusiasm in the media in the region and, on Monday, the city had to back down “due to the misunderstanding,” according to the local newspaper. Miami Herald.

“The benefits of opening up vaccination for undocumented Floridians far outweigh (the need) to limit it to avoid tourists,” said Guadalupe de la Cruz, of Florida’s American Friends Service Committee social justice NGO.

“It is the least that Florida can do to include and protect the well-being of its community members,” he said.

The previous restrictions did not prevent tourists from coming to Florida to get vaccinated. Since January, Wealthy Latin Americans had been sidestepping the residency requirement.

They did so by showing bank accounts with an address in the United States or temporary rental contracts, from Airbnb for example, which were later canceled.

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For example, María, an Argentine interior designer who went to Miami to get vaccinated last weekend, told the news agency AFP that he made the trip because in his country “there are not even plans for vaccines” for people his age, 46 years old.

“I had this temporary contract for six months with my name, nothing very formal, the boy (at the vaccination center) looked at it and found that my name matched the one on my passport and that was it”She said, asking not to be identified by her last name.

Now, without having to show residence documents, “it will be much easier,” said Maria this Friday. She also acknowledged that she knows a lot of people in Argentina who were making the same decision as her.

Many people are traveling to Miami to do it. Now I estimate that they will go more, although the tickets are quite expensive ”, continued the woman, already back in Buenos Aires with a single dose of Pfizer.

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