Florida emergency chief strongly discourages ‘vaccine tourism’ flights

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Diane Hooper was very happy on Thursday afternoon to be in line in Hillsborough County, Flordia, to get her COVID-19 vaccine.

“I had no problem. I just called up and it was so easy,” said Hooper.

She is among the fortunate so far to get the vaccine and have a trouble-free appointment. Many are complaining they are spending hours online and on the phone to try and get the vaccine.

Some have complained that people from outside of the county are taking up appointment slots in Hillsborough County.

That’s not the way Michael Buckley sees it.

“I’m from Pinellas County and I’m here because I was able to get in here. This is a national program administered by counties in the state of Florida. So, I don’t feel badly at all about coming over here and getting a vaccine,” said Buckley.

Hillsborough County officials say there is no residency requirement to get the vaccine, although they are not encouraging people from outside of the area to be vaccinated here

State Emergency Director Jared Moskowitz issued a strongly worded statement on Thursday to discourage Canadians who are chartering flights to Florida to be vaccinated.

“Vaccine tourism is not permitted. It is abhorrent, people should not be flying here to get a vaccine and flying out,” said Moskowitz.

He did point out that for some Canadians, getting the vaccine in Florida is acceptable.

“Vaccinating snowbirds, people who live here, rent, own a house, pay taxes, contribute to the economy, they’re eligible. If they get sick while they’re here, they wind up in our hospitals but that is very different from vaccine tourism,” said Moskowitz.

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