TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A new public advisory signed by Florida’s surgeon general outlines who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the Sunshine State.
According to the advisory, signed Thursday by Dr. Scott A. Rivkees, before administering the first dose of the vaccine, every vaccine provider in the state should make sure the recipient is either a resident of Florida or an individual who is in Florida to provide health care services that require direct contact with patients.
In order to be considered a resident of Florida, one must meet the following criteria, as outlined by Florida Statute 381.986)5)(b):
(b) The department shall determine whether an individual is a resident of this state for the purpose of registration of qualified patients and caregivers in the medical marijuana use registry. To prove residency:
1. An adult resident must provide the department with a copy of his or her valid Florida driver license issued under s. 322.18 or a copy of a valid Florida identification card issued under s. 322.051.
2. An adult seasonal resident who cannot meet the requirements of subparagraph 1. may provide the department with a copy of two of the following that show proof of residential address:
a. A deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement, mortgage payment booklet or residential rental or lease agreement.
b. One proof of residential address from the seasonal resident’s parent, step-parent, legal guardian or other person with whom the seasonal resident resides and a statement from the person with whom the seasonal resident resides stating that the seasonal resident does reside with him or her.
c. A utility hookup or work order dated within 60 days before registration in the medical use registry.
d. A utility bill, not more than 2 months old.
e. Mail from a financial institution, including checking, savings, or investment account statements, not more than 2 months old.
f. Mail from a federal, state, county, or municipal government agency, not more than 2 months old.
g. Any other documentation that provides proof of residential address as determined by department rule.
3. A minor must provide the department with a certified copy of a birth certificate or a current record of registration from a Florida K-12 school and must have a parent or legal guardian who meets the requirements of subparagraph 1.
For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “seasonal resident” means any person who temporarily resides in this state for a period of at least 31 consecutive days in each calendar year, maintains a temporary residence in this state, returns to the state or jurisdiction of his or her residence at least one time during each calendar year, and is registered to vote or pays income tax in another state or jurisdiction.
Rivkees signed the public health advisory in an effort to prioritize Florida residents for COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the state and prevent what’s being called “vaccine tourism,” which is when people travel from out of state just to get the vaccine then return home once getting the shot.
Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the issue earlier this week, saying during a news conference on Tuesday that anyone hoping to get vaccinated in Florida should live here “at least part time.”
Previously, all Florida vaccine sites were open to anyone in the priority groups -- frontline health care workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities and seniors age 65 and older -- regardless of state or county residency.
Because of that, people were flocking to Florida only to get the vaccine, which is highly sought after as the supply continues to fall extremely short of the demand.
One family even told News 6 earlier this week they drove 2,000 miles in an RV to Brevard County because they believe their best shot at getting a COVID-19 vaccine is moving from California to Florida.
Seminole County Emergency Management Director Alan Harris told News 6 on Tuesday that he was directed to administer shots only to those who could prove residency moving forward.
“That’s the story of the day. We just got authorization at 11:15 this morning that if you do not own a home in the state of Florida, you need to get a shot somewhere else. Many (residents from) other states are flying down here just to get the vaccine then flying back home,” Harris said Tuesday. “You have to present a driver’s license, a power bill or something that says you’re a resident here in the state of Florida. That’s just gonna start tomorrow morning.”
More than 1.3 million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Florida, with more than 40,000 of the shots administered to people from out of state, according to the latest daily vaccine report from the Florida Department of Health.
“We got a lot of complaints from residents about people that didn’t live here getting first grabs at the tickets or appointments,” Don Walker with Brevard County Emergency Management said.
Walker said this is not an ideal situation.
“It puts us in an awkward situation if we have to turn people around,” Walker said.
Brevard County officials had to modify plans after the latest update.
“I will be honest with you I think we are going to go ahead and honor the appointments that are already made but any appointments made from this day forward will not be honored if you are an out of state resident,” Walker said. “If you have already received the vaccine or already received an appointment then your appointment is going to be honored.”