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No Florida Residency Requirement For COVID-19 Vaccines Lets Tourists Get Vaccinated — Frustrating Residents

Yanina Dora vaccine.jpg
A screen grab of a video posted by Argentine media personality, Yanina Latorre, showing her mother, Dora, getting a COVID-19 vaccine at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Both women live in Buenos Aires.

To get the vaccine against COVID-19 in Florida right now, you either have to be a health care worker, 65 years old or older, or live or work at a long-term care care facility.

In Miami-Dade County, some hospitals are vaccinating people with pre-existing conditions, including Baptist Hospital, which is including "those with extreme vulnerabilities that put them at a high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19," as per its website.

So far, there is no state residency requirement to get the vaccine in Florida.

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A lot of people are still trying and trying and trying to get an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, and finding out that someone who doesn’t live in Florida could get one of those appointments may feel infuriating, but a lot of people who work in healthcare say getting people vaccinated is more important than limiting people based on where they live.

On Instagram, Argentine media personality Yanina Latorre posted a video of herself taking her mother to get vaccinated at Hard Rock Stadium. They both live in Buenos Aires.

"Dora, I love you," said Latorre in the video, as someone sticks the syringe in her mother's arm. That got her a lot of backlash on social media.

In Miami-Dade County, the state’s health department only asks if the person will be in town for the booster shot.

"We would not deny that person," said Dr. Yesenia Villalta, the department’s director. "Because that’s a person that would be able to protect not only from one getting infected but also to spread the virus to other individuals and infect other individuals in our community."

Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious diseases expert with Florida International University, has been involved in the vaccination efforts in South Florida. She says she understands all the frustration but says the virus doesn’t care where you live, or about your citizenship status.

"Whether you’re documented or not is not something the virus cares about," she said. "If they’re out and about and where everyone else who is a legal resident is, they can still first of all get ill themselves and transmit it to others."

As far as people getting vaccinated without meeting the state’s criteria, Gov. Ron DeSantis has said the state would consider shifting doses from those facilities to other places.

Vaccine Guidelines

Verónica Zaragovia was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up in South Florida. She’s been a lifelong WLRN listener and is proud to cover health care for the station. Verónica has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master's degree in journalism. For many years, Veronica lived out of a suitcase (or two) in New York City, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, D.C., San Antonio and Austin, where she worked as the statehouse and health care reporter with NPR member station KUT.