TAMPA (WFLA) – Many 8 On Your Side viewers have contacted us worried about vaccine tourism. But on Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis moved to reassure Floridians stating that 97 percent of people receiving the vaccine are in fact, full-time residents.
Keeping them honest, 8 On Your Side is asking how the state knows whether the people getting the shots are your neighbors or vaccine visitors.
On Friday morning, Gov. DeSantis appeared on Fox News from Pinellas County to give an update on the vaccine rollout.
“We are putting our seniors first,” said Gov. DeSantis. “We’ve done about 1.3 million reported vaccine shots…97 percent have been full-time Florida residents.”
Dozens of viewers have asked us to investigate vaccine tourism: how often are people flying to Florida get the shot?
The answer could be in an online system called Florida SHOTS. This is the primary vaccine tracking database in the state.
Within 24 hours of a needle going into an arm, providers must update the system.
8 On Your Side has asked state officials to show us the records backing up Gov. DeSantis’ 97 percent statement.
Meantime, there’s an attempt to crackdown on out-of-state vaccine violators.
Late Thursday afternoon, Florida’s Surgeon General issued a public health advisory calling on providers to ensure COVID-19 vaccine recipients are residents.
Under the new rules, you’ll be asked to provide a valid Florida driver’s license or other proof of residency.
Kevin Watler is with the Department of Health in Hillsborough.
“Be prepared to show some sort of proof of residency,” said Mr. Watler.
“If someone doesn’t have that proof, do you know what happens yet?” asked Investigative Reporter Mahsa Saeidi.
“Right now, if you do not have the proof and you already made a reservation, we’re going ahead and honoring it, we don’t want to turn people away,” said Watler. “Anyone that has a future appointment, you’re going to need to come prepared.”
A public health advisory doesn’t have the teeth of an executive order.
8 On Your Side will be watching to see how this is enforced.
Bottom line, make sure you bring the right identification and/or documents to your vaccine appointment.