Sunday, September 19, 2021
Sunday, September 19, 2021

Can snowbirds get shots? A vaccine controversy

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.

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Jari T
6 months ago

Different info than reported above- We just left Cochise County in AZ yesterday where our RVer friend (also from SD) was turned away last week from even registering for the vaccine because she was not a resident of the county or state. The AZ governor had said he wanted Snowbirds to get the vaccine, but you can’t get it at least in that county.

Terri R
7 months ago

Florida resident here, 57yo and categorized by the CDC in class 1B. Our governor has changed from CDC to state health official recommendations to get everyone 65+ covered and 1B waits. That is great but I & my DH are out here working fulltime in COVID stew conditions (quite literally) and we are supposed to go behind snowbirds that were not included in our population count for allocation? Some 40K people did not show up for their booster before snowbirds were cut off so believe some of those were travelers (& from out of the country on vaccine vacations) that just wasted a perfectly good vaccine not getting boostered.
Bad enough that we have a hard time getting campsites during prime camping months but to have to wait to get our own parents vaccinated because of system overload & have our governor tell us we are not critical to cover yet even though the CDC says we are…. FL residents first then travelers.

bwodom
7 months ago

We have changed our plans for the summer in order to get our vaccine at home. We completely cancelled our May-Sep volunteer position because it was too far to return home for vaccinations and cannot be sure how other states will treat non-resident applicants.
We will still travel two states away for our two-month Spring camp host position since we make this trip twice a year to help with my aging mother. When I spoke with the volunteer coordinator, she had no clue as to whether we could or could not participate in their vaccine program. So hubby who is 70 will have his vaccinations before we leave; I may have to wait until we return.

Sherry
7 months ago

We’re in Riverside County in Southern California and snowbirds are able to get their vaccinations with just a photo ID.

Darla VanAlphen
7 months ago

I am a 50 year resident of Fl, an RVer for life and a full timer for 5 of the last 6 years. We made the decision to get off the road to care for my Mother and then to stay here until we get vaccinated in our STATE of RESIDENCE. I am 59 and don’t qualify for it yet even though I am a bad diabetic, so I am patiently waiting my turn. Unfortunately the number of doses for each state is based on existing population, not tourists. I am happy for the 25 percent of the FL population over 65 to be ahead of me, but each person who is counted in another state or country is one more who I see as cutting in line ahead of me. I am a retired health care worker who donated time to hospice. I could probably pull strings and get it, but fair is fair and rules are rules. Wait in line or go home where you may get it sooner. The choice is yours

Paul S Goldberg
7 months ago

All the comments I’ve read are about Florida. I am in Riverside County California. My formal residence is Livingston TX. I applied for my appointment using my Riverside CA address and presented my Passport, one of the alternative required photo IDs to prove I was the person who had reserved. No one questioned where my residence is. I then applied for an appointment for my wife in San Diego using our Riverside address and the software accepted it. We will see tomorrow when she presents her Passport for ID. We have heard of Riverside residents being turned away from another San Diego site (Petco Park) and of many others getting their shot there. It seems to be up to the particular screener.

Craig
7 months ago

You need to be careful in your promotion of this so called vaccine for the Chinese Flu. The science is not proven except that there have many side affects….some even fatal!

judy Brackett
7 months ago

I am a Florida resident and an Rver. I live in a county with 31,000 seniors over 65. Right now 7500 seniors have been vaccinated by the Department of Health in the last month. We are doing the best they can with the number of vaccines they are given. Most of those seniors do not have the luxury of traveling out of state to get vaccines so need to rely on what comes here. The state is allocated the # of vaccines per population. Rvers are not able to be counted for various reasons. If you live in a park for the winter , have your park write you a lease and you will get in line with the rest of us.

Rik
7 months ago

FWIW, Florida is doing an excellent job of getting the vaccine out to people. They currently rank 3rd in the number of doses given, behind California and Texas.
I do find it strange that in a state where so many have resisted wearing masks, that so many seniors are now suddenly concerned with their health, wanting to be vaccinated ASAP.
For the self-centered Floridians that read this, it’s to your advantage to have the snowbirds vaccinated (Those of you that are truly self-centered will think I’m talking about someone else).
An observation from the various RV forums I follow: in terms of the vaccine rollout, there has been an inordinate amount of complaints from those who live in Florida. The common theme seems to be “Me First!”

Terri R
7 months ago
Reply to  Rik

I want snowbirds vaccinated too …but would like to see my parents & haven’t since COVID started but just might if we could get them in to be vaccinated. If you want to call me self centered because I want my parents protected for their health & so that I can visit safely … guess I must be someone else

John
7 months ago

This is a tough call. I can see both sides. I live in FL and we RV for road trips (not full-timers). But at this point, with so few vaccines vs. how many want them, I feel I have to come down on the side that says snowbirds should not be able to get the shots here in FL. Should have to return to their own state or country. Now down the road, if availability significantly increases, that position could be revisited.

Jeff
7 months ago

Has anyone done some research on the covid 19 vaccine? Just wondering.

Eric Meslin
7 months ago

I am an over 65 year old Floridian, and I blame the Feds for the inadequate roll out issues. My first shot was in mid-Jan at the Co. Fairgrounds. Despite lack of planning, St. Lucie Co. did a great job. At the time our Governor was allowing anyone 65+ to get the vaccine, no matter the home state. New York had different priorities, so many folks in this age group made reservations and travelled down just for the shot. I was in line with seniors from NY and NJ that did just that. One couple has two reservations for their second shot, one in Florida, and if that doesn’t pan out, one in NY. If the Federal Government had planned and controlled the priorities and rollouts throughout the states, there would have been no need for folks to travel for shots. I agree that snowbirds in all states should be on the same footing as year round residents. As was said previously, the Federal Government is footing the bill for the vaccines. They should call the shots (pun intended).

Dawn Adamson
7 months ago

The new Florida rules are very disappointing. We are “snowbirds” and have been in Florida for the past year because we were unable to travel due to Covid. We have rental agreements dating back as far as November 2019 and a P.O. Box rental agreement from that time. It’s hypocritical that Florida welcomes our dollars spent in their restaurants, RV parks and grocery stores but won’t welcome us to receive a vaccine that would save our lives and allow us to continue to add to the economy of Florida every year.

Terri R
7 months ago
Reply to  Dawn Adamson

With a rental agreement you are allowed to register & get vaccinated in FL …

Bob P
7 months ago

I don’t know where Russ&Tina stay in FL but every time we went there we had to pay the local electric company’s bill that was sent to us via email which could easily be printed for proof. The only furnished utilities was water and sewer. That’s my biggest gripe about journalism, they get a degree and immediately they start writing without researching the subject pulling “facts” out of thin air. That’s as bad as pulling water out of thin air with a $2000 dehumidifier. Lol

Mike Albert
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob P

Every private park we have stayed in while in Florida included electric if the stay was less than seven days. More than seven days, electric was separate. At least is was while staying in Bonita Beach, St. Augustine, Sarasota, Ft. Lauderdale, the Keys, Ft. Myers and other locations. Also, as a dual resident of Florida and Pennsylvania, (not just in Fl for the winter) we were able to receive our first shot last week. Our governor at first opened the vaccine to all people and appeared daily at a news conference publicity stunt. He loves the attention and changes his mind like the wind blows. His idol is no longer the leader and he must now make up his own mind.

GeorgeB
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Albert

Critical of FL leadership, yet you got the vaccine. Crickets about PA leadership handling of vaccine and they are in disarray. The idol you reference is gone, now its time to blame EVERYTHING on the new idol.

Mike Albert
7 months ago
Reply to  GeorgeB

Yea George , I am being critical. What I didn’t feel the need to say was that I am involved at the county level with coordination of vaccines for those that make the call or enroll online. The instructions have been in the media. There was no direction from Tallahassee. Our local Health Department set up the guidelines. Our Emergency Operation Center set up the procedure. The number of vaccines available “provided by the state” dictate the number of openings we have. Time of appointments are from 9:00 to 12:30, typically four days a week. The drive through site is manned by Dept of Health workers, Fire and Police personal, and CERT volunteers. It takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you enter the parking lot to the “jab”. Then 15 minutes for a reaction check by a paramedic, nurse or doctor. All this without state guidance.

Mike Albert
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Albert

BTW, I agree with the PA distribution.

GeorgeB
7 months ago

I find it rather amusing that proof of identity is needed to get a life saving vaccine, but no such proof is needed in America to vote for those who are granted the power to administer it.

John
7 months ago
Reply to  GeorgeB

It’s amazing & appalling that so MANY things require valid ID, but not voting.

Magee Willis
7 months ago
Reply to  John

Absolutely!

Bob M
7 months ago

We are all Gods children and everyones life deserves to be saved. Give everyone the vaccine no matter where their from. Just follow the criteria each state set up. From health care workers to elderly seniors, those with serious heath conditions and so on.

Gary
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob M

If only we actually lived in your utopia…
State residents and long term visitors should get it before vacationers and the fly in/fly out crowd. I read that they are flying in from S. Africa too, just to get the vaccine.

manfred manville
7 months ago

In the Coastal Bend of Texas, the City of Corpus Christi operates a Mega Clinic. I went last week and received a shot after waiting in line for 6 hours. It is first come first served, basic info on registration, and there were people in line in driving Diesel Pushers, as well as Mexican license plates.

Bob Sapio
7 months ago

Please don’t demonize Florida or our governor. As previously stated, we have a huge population of seniors here and the powers that be are trying to make sure they get the vaccine in a timely manner.
That being said, my wife and are lifelong Florida residents that full-time at a park in Central Florida. The park population doubles during snowbird season. Last Sunday EVERYONE in the park was able to get the first vaccine shot if they chose to. Park management reached out to the local health department and organized it.
If you are legitimately staying here as a snowbird, you will have something to document that. If you are just here to utilize our resources because your state is having a problem then stay home.

Terri R
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob Sapio

love that!

Joe Goomba
7 months ago

Who’s paying for the vaccine, States or Federal? Far as I know, it’s Federal, so how does one state get to decide I can’t benefit from what MY Federal tax dollars paid for? Beyond that, DexxxSantis is an xxxxx, bought and paid for by Publix. (Bleeped by Diane. No name-calling, please.)

Jeannie
7 months ago
Reply to  Joe Goomba

The name calling is uncalled for and shows that you have to resort to name calling instead of putting some real ideas out there on how to deal with the issue.

Mike Albert
7 months ago
Reply to  Joe Goomba

Agreed

Bob
7 months ago

I agree that snowbirds should be able to get the vaccine, but not at the exception of actual residents.
The govt. allocates the vaccine by the number of residents in the state. You are a visitor.
I live in Western PA and could easily drive to West Virginia where they have the best vaccination rate in the country. I’m sure if the shoe was on the other foot, you too would be upset.

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