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Vaccine tourism is the new thing as people fly to the US to get vaccinated

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Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2021. 6:12 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: People from several countries in Latin America are flying in the cities in the United States to get vaccinated as vaccination in their countries is too slow or in low supply, reports AFP.

AFP said that people from Ecuador, El Salvador and Venezuela have lined up “across the sand of Miami Beach, Florida, as dozens of travellers from Latin America waited their turn at a pop-up coronavirus vaccination booth.”

“Sweating under the Sunday afternoon sun, visitors checked into an online system — no proof of residence required — and soon after received a free, single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a vaccination card,” said the AFP report.

“In my country, (Covid) is getting out of hand and there’s not much chance we’ll have access to the vaccine soon,” Maria Bonilla from Honduras, told AFP on Saturday.

Bonilla, 40, who is an accountant wasn’t alone; she took her parents, aged 63 and 73, to get vaccinated as well.

“We had to decide to look for a solution outside the country,” Bonilla said.

Blanca Diaz, 50, flew in to Florida from Mexico on Friday with the same idea.

“They are just starting to vaccinate older people,” she said of Mexico.

AFP said that prompted by the vaccine rush, airlines have raised the airfares. It points out that flights from Buenos Aires to Miami, have doubled from the usual $1,000 to $2,000 in May.

Bonilla said that she was aware that she is fortunate to be able to afford the international travel to get vaccinated.

Miami Beach city commissioner David Richardson, who oversees the vaccination facility said that he had mixed feelings about vaccine tourists. He said that while he figures the US government should help as many people as it can, what about those that cannot afford to visit the United States.

“My only concern is that it seems that the people who can afford to buy an airfare can come to the United States and get a vaccine now,” Richardson said to AFP. “And what about the poor people in South America?”

Richardson urged the US government to send vaccines to other countries “so that everybody can have access to the vaccine, not just the people who can afford to come here.”

AFP reports that last Sunday, the pop-up vaccination booth vaccinated 175 tourists with the Johnson & Johnson shot. Tourists refer that vaccine because it is only one dose.

Richardson said that the booth has been set up on the beach at Miami Beach for two weekends and will be returning for the next few weekends.

Richardson told AFP he was authorized to provide vaccines to anyone over age 18. Those wanting to get vaccinated no longer have to present proof of residence. This move is aimed at encouraging undocumented residents to get vaccinated, but vaccine tourists are making the most of it.

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