Florida Finally Cracks Down On ‘Vaccine Tourism’

Florida Finally Cracks Down On ‘Vaccine Tourism’

Hundreds of cars line up for the drive-through vaccination center in Clermont, Florida. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

They flew in from Canada. They came from New York, Ohio and Minnesota. But unlike in any typical migration to the Sunshine State, many of this winter’s arrivals were not trying to escape the cold weather. These travelers were flocking to Florida for the Covid-19 vaccine.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ decision in December to make the vaccine available to all people age 65 and older — including non-residents — fueled a carpe-diem-style opportunism that was quickly dubbed “vaccine tourism.”

Some wealthy Canadians were ponying up as much as $80,000 to charter planes for same-day vaccination trips, reported the Wall Street Journal. “We’re getting requests now from clients that are willing to fly into Florida, if they have an appointment, and then fly home again on the same day,” said Janelle Brind, a company vice president at Toronto-based Momentum Jets.

While the Canadian government has a travel advisory in place against non-essential travel, there is no law preventing anyone from leaving the country. But yesterday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians that an international travel ban could come at any time, and without warning. He told reporters that while people have the right to travel, the government has the right to impose penalties for those who endanger others. 

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