Florida residency no longer required to receive COVID-19 vaccines in Sunshine State

Coronavirus

TAMPA (WFLA) – As the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine drops in Florida, the state has further expanded access to visitors from out of state.

Proof of residency is no longer needed to get a shot at a pharmacy, state, or federally-run vaccination site, according to a Public Health Advisory issued Thursday by Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees.

“We were praying on the way here, we were praying to god that it would be available,” Donnie Beasley Bettes told 8 On Your Side.

In under 20 minutes, her fiancé left the federally supported vaccination site at the Tampa Greyhound Track fully vaccinated.

“I don’t want to infect anybody,” Gregory Lewis said. “I want to be able to live my life again.”

Visiting from Michigan, Lewis opted for the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“It concerns me that people aren’t getting it done,” Beasley Bettes said. “But there’s plenty of people that would like to have it done who are here visiting.”

In the advisory, Dr. Rivkees rescinded the residency requirement to “ensure that no COVID-19 vaccines are wasted.”

“The FEMA sites and some of the state sites are having no lines whatsoever,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson from the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

In the race between vaccinations and the virus variants, more young adults need to get their shots, Dr. Wolfson said.

“The complacency with the 18 to 35 age population which is the highest rate of COVID right now is a challenge,” Dr. Wolfson said.

Beasley Bettes is a doctor back in Michigan.

“Unfortunately the people who don’t want to get the immunization,” she said, “they’re gonna have to deal with the consequences and I find it very interesting that they don’t believe in the science when we say we have an immunization, but when they get sick they’re up there at the hospital saying give me everything you can give me, I believe in science now.”

Now that they are both vaccinated, Beasley Bettes and her fiancé can’t wait to celebrate Memorial Day with family.

“So this will be the first time in almost 18 months that we can get together,” she said.

Back on April 16, the Florida Department of Health reported more than 96,000 people got their first dose of the vaccine. That number was barely more than 18,000 on Thursday.

The vaccination site at the Tampa Greyhound Track is offering both the J&J and Pfizer vaccine. It is open seven days a week and no appointment is needed.

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