By Russ and Tiña De Maris
We’ve all been agonizing for months with the COVID-19 pandemic. Locked away in homes. Stuck behind masks. Worried that we or our loved ones will come down with this dreadful disease. Then we got a glimmer of hope – workable vaccinations that may finally put an end to the curse of COVID. It’s been a month since the rollout, and now comes a new crisis: Can snowbirds get shots?
Get herd immunity
The stated goal of the world-wide vaccination campaign is to achieve herd immunity. Get enough people vaccinated, the virus won’t find suitable human hosts, and without a host, won’t be able to live and multiply. Eventually, the thinking is, the virus will simply whimper away. With a “million vaccinations per day,” the present mantra, it’s a matter of time before that herd immunity becomes a reality, right?
As we’ve witnessed, there are a few snags in the affair. Whatever the cause, it seems that there’s not enough vaccine where we want it to get everyone vaccinated as fast as the masses want. That’s led to plenty of trouble, particularly in the warm winter states and, most in the news of late, Florida. Initially we were told everyone could get the vaccine. Can snowbirds get shots? Sure!
Florida call to arms
But a couple of weeks ago, things got ugly. Some vociferous Floridians started yelling that the snowbirds were edging them out, and that the natives should go first. A study showed that only about 4 percent of the vaccines were ending up in the arms of non-Floridians, but that news seemed to get buried. Evidently the call to arms hit the ears of state-level government. New eligibility rules have rolled out. Can snowbirds get shots? Sure! IF. And yes, it’s a BIG IF. If you’re a snowbird and want the jab, you’ll need the proper documentation. That means:
- A Florida driver license or ID card;
- Or a combination of other official documents, such as a deed, mortgage or rental lease agreement;
- Or a utility bill or bank account statement in the person’s name.
It’s highly unlikely your average snowbird will have a Florida driver license or ID card. OK, what about those “official documents”? If Florida snowbirds are anything like Arizona snowbirds, we can tell you from experience, for many snowbirds it just isn’t going to happen. Granted, there aren’t a lot of free public lands to park an RV on down there in gator-land. But still, if you’re a snowbird who has friends or relatives who are willing to “put you up” on their property, you certainly won’t have anything like a deed, mortgage or rental lease agreement. The same will certainly be true for utility bills and bank accounts.
Some leave Florida
Can snowbirds get shots? Given those limitations, as far as many RVers are concerned it’s a no-go situation. Since a “combination” of documents is called for, an RVer may have a copy of a rental agreement with an RV park but, hey, utilities are included. The average RVer won’t have a receipt from Florida Power and Light. These RVers are, as they say, “fresh out of luck.”
As a result, the news is carrying stories of Florida snowbirds who say they’ll be pulling up stakes and heading out of the Sunshine State. Evidently, that’s just fine by some vocal vaccine zealots. “Let ‘em go elsewhere.”
But is there a flaw in the logic here? The idea of herd immunity is to immunize the masses to protect the masses. Last we checked, COVID-19 didn’t ask to see a driver’s license, nor a combination of documents prior to taking up residence in a human body. OK, so a bonafide Florida resident gets their vaccination but, say, next week rubs elbows with a non-vaccinated snowbird who just happens to be a COVID carrier. That already-jabbed Floridian stands a good chance of catching COVID from the carrier, as their immunity still hasn’t kicked in. Just sayin’.
What about other snowbird states?
What about other popular snowbird states? At last check, the Grand Canyon State, while way behind on getting vaccines out of vials and into arms, has a wide-open policy toward who can get the jab. Can snowbirds get shots in Arizona? Yes, and so can folks from “elsewhere.” “Vaccine is one of those things that we make available no matter if you’re a winter visitor, if you’re here visiting from another country,” says Dr. Cara M. Christ, the state’s health director. “Because of the impact that the diseases that you vaccinate against have on the community, we want to make sure that we’re protecting everybody.”
As far as California goes, things aren’t so expansive. In Riverside County, if you want a COVID-19 vaccination you’ll need to do just as the folks in Florida. Show an ID, or provide suitable documentation. We weren’t able to track down anything official on how things are for Winter Texans. If you’ve heard, drop us a line.
Can snowbirds get shots? It depends. Do you have the paperwork? Or are you in a state that figures getting as many folks vaccinated is more important than your point of origin? Wear your mask. Keep up physical distancing. Wash your hands. For some, washing their hands means more than getting under the tap – it means getting out of Florida.