Sarasota, Manatee counties to require proof of residency to receive COVID-19 vaccine

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SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Health officials in Sarasota and Manatee counties announced Wednesday that proof of residency will now be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Anyone who wants to get a vaccine through the state… must now show proof of being a resident or a long-term resident through Florida license or a utility bill,” Chris Tittel with the Florida Department of Health Manatee County said.

The move comes the same day as Volusia and Seminole counties also started requiring proof of residency to receive a vaccine.

8 On Your Side’s Allyson Henning asked Sarasota County health officials what would happen if someone who has registered to receive a vaccine but cannot show proof of residency.

“It certainly is important that we vaccinate people that are living in our community long-term. What we are trying to avoid is vaccinating people that fly in just to get a vaccine and fly back out,” Chuck Henry with the Florida Department of Health Sarasota County said. “We will be trying to screen for that the best we can and if we identify people that are here for vaccine tourism, then yes we will turn them away.”

During two separate news conferences Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis made it clear, he wants the limited COVID-19 vaccines coming into the state to go to the people who live here full time or part-time.

“We are not doing vaccine tourism,” said DeSantis. “You have people that live here six months. That is fine. They use the hospitals here, they pay taxes, but to just kind of come in from another country or whatever, we don’t support that and we are not going to allow that.”

The changes in residency requirements in Sarasota comes as welcome news to some seniors who have spent hours on their computers trying to make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“It is very frustrating to know that people are coming from out of state and taking the spots that should be reserved for the full-time residents or at least part time residents of the state,” said Venice resident Gayle Davis.

“We live here. I see a lot of people are jumping in line and getting ahead flying down and it’s just not the way it should work,” said Venice resident Wally Davis.

Starting Thursday, any one with an appointment to receive a COVID-19 in Sarasota County must show proof of being a Florida resident. However, Manatee County officials say they are still working on logistics and will announce when their residency requirements will go into effect.

State health officials haven’t made any official announcements regarding changes in residency requirements.

8 On Your Side has contacted the Department of Health in Tallahassee asking for clarification on the current residency requirements in place and what direction has been given to county health departments in the last few days. As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, we haven’t received a response.

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