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Florida Snowbirds Still Eligible for Vaccine – But Is Governor Playing Politics?

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

January 23 — Outrage over media reports of Canadians and other foreigners paying big dollars for charter flights to Miami for coronavirus vaccine shots generated understandable blowback. Reacting, Florida Gov. DeSantis took steps to eliminate this form of medical tourism this week. While that made most residents happier, Florida’s many snowbirds became concerned that the new rules might effectively shut them out of getting inoculated. Fortunately the new rules for snowbirds and other seasonal visitors have been clarified, and most should be eligible for a shot (if they can get an appointment!)

Playing politics?

Elsewhere, there is concern that groups with close ties to the Governor, who is touting his decision to prioritize residents age 65+ over essential workers, are getting priority access to the vaccine. Residents in communities like The Villages were quick to an allocation, while almost everyone in Century Village and Kings Point has had a chance to get their shots by now. Meanwhile, millions of other FL residents not so well connected are stymied by non-existent web sites, lengthy queues, and fragmentary information. This has led to speculation that the Governor or his staff is steering vaccines to organizations he has ties to. Speculation has also arisen over the Publix supermarket chain’s donation of $100,000 to the Governor’s political campaign. The chain has since become a major source of Covid 19 vaccines administered in the state. The Governor’s office has denied any connection, according to WUSF Public Media.

Who is Eligible for the Vaccine in Florida?

Eligibility for non-Florida residents starts with being able to prove that they reside in the state for at least 31 consecutive days. Then they have to scramble to come up with two other types of documents. The first document might be easy to come by, but the second could involve more effort.


Florida residents. To prove residency an adult resident must provide a copy of his or her valid Florida driver license or a copy of a valid Florida identification card.
Seasonal resident means any person who temporarily resides in this state for a period of at least 31 consecutive days in each calendar year, maintains a temporary residence in this state, returns to the state or jurisdiction of his or her residence at least one time during each calendar year, and is registered to vote or pays income tax in another state or jurisdiction.

Seasonal residents may provide a copy of two of the following to show proof of residential address:

  1. A deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement, mortgage payment booklet or residential rental or lease agreement.
  2. One proof of residential address from the season resident’s parent, step-parent or legal guardian or other person with whom the seasonal resident resides and a statement from the person with whom the seasonal resident resides stating that the seasonal resident does reside with him or her.
  3. A utility hookup or work order dated within 60 days before registration.
  4. A utility bill, not more than 2 months old.
  5. Mail from a financial institution, including checking, savings, or investment account statements, not more than 2 months old.
  6. Mail from a federal, state, county, or municipal government agency, not more than 2 months old.

What is it like in your state? How is your quest for a vaccine going? What is like in your state – is it being handled well? Are you having trouble getting a shot, or did you have success? Where are people having the most luck getting an appointment? Please share your experiences in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on January 23rd, 2021

23 Comments »

  1. We are snowbirds who own a home in Florida. Before we left Ohio we called health departments in several FL counties about how we go about getting a vaccination and were told to put our OH address on the registration forms because it would match our drivers license. However, this past Thursday everything changed, as mentioned in this article, and we were told having an Ohio address on our registrations would not get us anywhere until all of Florida is vaccinated, so we had to redo the registrations. We have collected the now necessary documents -thanks for listing them -and are just waiting for the email, the text or the phone call from somewhere telling us there is a spot. Along with paying attention to several websites each day to see if anything pops up, this has become a full time job!

    by Jemmie — January 23, 2021

  2. I certainly can understand the frustration expressed by Jemmie in describing her ordeal to get vaccinated in Florida being that they’re snowbirds. The truth of the matter is that such paperwork, enforcement and restrictions wouldn’t have been necessary in the first place had non-Florida residents not abused the system trying to jump the line ahead of legal FLORIDA residents and snowbirds who own property here.
    I know such “line jumping” occurs from a friend who knows a person who did just that.
    It’s unfortunate that Jemmie has this newfound “full time job” but she can blame those non-Florida people trying to abuse the system for her situation.

    by Curt — January 24, 2021

  3. I am a FL snowbird who owns FL property. We can’t blame non-residents for
    jumping the line since Gov Desantis authorized them to do so by such a foolish order.
    We should be blaming DeSantis , not nonresidents.

    by Anne — January 24, 2021

  4. It is starting to look like some of the states with the most restrictive policies are having the most trouble getting their populations inoculated. Problem is there is a significant number of folks who won’t get vaccinated or procrastinate. Might be better just to give to broader groups and get it out faster. I have heard people who advocate giving to people in their 30s and 40s, since they seem to be the spreaders. Many different opinions – whatever works as long as distribution is handled fairly and not sold to highest bidder.

    by Rick — January 24, 2021

  5. We are all facing this together. Residents of a state should be able to receive the vaccine regardless of where they are from (Canada). Snowbirds play a key role in the economic and daily life of a state’s population. That being said, I do not believe that illegal aliens crossing the border should be given special place in line for the vaccine before U.S. citizens. Hopefully there will be enough supply for everybody to receive the vaccine shortly.

    by John Hutchins — January 25, 2021

  6. Heard anecdotal stories about vaccines in Florida as well as Arizona. A friend states EMT boyfriend got vaccine because he qualifies although retired. She tagged along and they gave her the shot. The issue is same in Arizona where I live now. Someone I know said his wife’s friend took parent to the State Farm Stadium and the two accompanying got their shots. Arizona Republic did the irresponsible and reported that plus one was a thing, then picked up by other local media. On one shift, worker administering shots said she had 100 plus ones on her shift. Arizona opened up 65+ without having capacity to take care of all in the earlier priority groups. Website snafus to register, 5 hour wait on hold to book appointment and all appointments gone anyway within 24 hours of opening up registration. We have a vacation home in a different county and have an appointment. I’ll bring paperwork documenting it is our house and assume I’m good to get the shot. Husband realized he is in an essential profession although also retired so he is on wait list as the outstate county is also booked. There’s a good chance that even those who snagged appointments through the end of March may find there isn’t vaccine on hand to administer. Minnesota friends report on lottery system to get an appointment. The State is considered one of the best in the country for health care but not in this area.

    by Kathy — January 27, 2021

  7. I live in AZ. Seasonal residents here are also able to get the vaccine. Really aggrevates those of us who live here full time. Getting an appointment is really difficult. My 75 yo husband is on a list that started at age 102. We have no idea when he, or I at age 68, will get an appointment. I get on the computer several times a day looking. Having more people come in to compete for a scarce resource is stressing the system even more. Many seasonal residents in my community have chosen to stay home this winter. As the CDC is asking people not to travel and gather, I wish more people listened. . We get at least 2 announcements a day about Covid diagnoses. Today’s had 3 couples in one and 2 in the other. My zip code, which is 85% my 55+ community, and has about 10,000 people altogether, has 801 positive cases and several deaths. Not good.

    by Barbara — January 27, 2021

  8. Florida’s long promised vaccine registration site appears to be online and ready for business, https://myvaccine.fl.gov Once at that site you indicate your county and provide other information. The following populations of Florida Residents are currently eligible to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine:

    Individuals 65 years of age and older
    Long-term facility residents and staff
    Healthcare personnel with direct patient contact
    Individuals deemed to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by hospital providers

    Residents can also call a phone number in their county to get in line.

    How this site will interface with the Publix registration system is unclear.

    by Admin — January 29, 2021

  9. Thank you for keeping us updated on the Florida, it does seem like there is more of an organized plan with the new website, and thank you for the link. Sarasota County assigned us a vaccination number this week that now appears on our online registration form. We have 14,000 ahead of us which I guess isn’t bad considering the high number of those 65 and older in this county (over 140,000).
    My neighbor from where we live in Ohio called earlier this week to tell us she got a vaccination appointment soon after she registered in our county there, and she felt like she had won the lottery. The next day she got a call from the health department explaining there was a mistake and they are not giving vaccines to 65+ yet. She was of course upset and discouraged that it still seems to be disorganized when the Governor there is working hard to get things running smoothly. There are lots of stories from other states, I’m sure.

    by Jemmie — January 30, 2021

  10. More in the paper today about Publix and the vaccine. Many rural areas do not have a Publix so folks are out of luck there. The donations are actually quite large as the family members donate in other states to avoid caps.

    by Lynn — January 31, 2021

  11. Lynn, Could you clarify your last sentence? Are you talking of food donations or ??

    by Carl — February 1, 2021

  12. In the interest of getting a quick answer on this we will take the liberty of answering for Lynn (if you disagree please feel free to correct). I think Lynn is referring to the $100,000 in donations to the reelection PAC for Gov. DeSantis. Five days after those donations the Gov took away most vaccinations from the County Health Departments and awarded a sole contract to Publix. The Gov. denies any connection but it is hard not to see one. This is different from the other Publix related donation that is in the news today, a $300,000 donation to Pres. Trump’s Jan 6 rally that ended in the storming of the capitol – that donation was from a Publix heiress, not the supermarket chain.

    by Admin — February 1, 2021

  13. Admin

    Yes, you are correct. The Tampa Bay Times covers the nuances of the donations that Publix makes. Presumably the Publix heiress will be inheriting a part of the company.

    by Lynn — February 2, 2021

  14. Two more updates about the covid vaccines. FL Gov DeSantis just announced that he will be delivering 4,000 doses as well as a regular supply to The Villages for distribution. Florida seniors can register at sumterfl.saferestart.net.

    But over in North Carolina, residents of an independent living community were told by the CDC that independent living communities were not eligible (normally independent living communities have an older clientele than communities like The Villages).

    Bottom line: We have a crazy system in this country. Heaven help the senior living by herself who is not computer savvy.

    by Admin — February 3, 2021

  15. My co-worker will be 95 (no family) in October 2021. She is neither computer or cell phone literate. She answers the phones in our office. She called me and asked me if I could help her get her “jab”. I attempted going online and did get her name and address with date of birth into the database, but no way to get an appointment. After several days of phone calls, a patient called me when I voiced my frustration . He gave me a new phone number and so I called it. Low and behold a real person answered it and I told her that I needed to get an elderly and front line co-worker an appointment for the vaccine ASAP. The volunteer told me to have her send an email and I told her that she was 95 and not computer literate so she asked me to have her “text” her. I told her she did not use a cell phone either!!! After a few seconds of silence, I was transferred to her supervisor who looked up the registration information I had entered for my co-worker online. We matched up the dates of birth and I was FINALLY given two dates, one for each vaccine, she would receive. i as also given the times she should arrive and the location–Georgetown University Hospital. She got her first shot two weeks ago and will get the second one next week,

    My concern is that the process ignores the seniors over 75 who are not able or do not wish to use a computer or even a cell phone. It is also hard to process that a 95 year old is still working two days per week and yes, she even drives. ( Amazing and scary at the same time.) I am not sure that this broken system will ever reach every one as it currently exists.

    by Jennifer — February 4, 2021

  16. Is it me or does it seem that there is a stark contrast between blue and red governors in whether seniors are valued in the COVID distribution or not. My 89 year old father in law lives in an facility that has independent living, which he is part of on up to a nursing home on its campus. The nursing home residents have received it first and then the independent living residents received it. This is with a Republican governor.

    by hcbury — February 4, 2021

  17. In NC anyone 65 and over is eligible for the vaccine. Are you referring to an independent living facility with people under 65?

    Editor comment: According to WRAL.com The Southern Pines Gracious Retirement Living Center enrolled all of its residents in the Center for Disease Control’s Pharmacy Partnership Program, which brings pharmacists on site for a coronavirus vaccination clinic. The CDC told them, according to the report, that they were not eligible. Sounds like a confusing situation (maybe they get the vaccines administered there), but we would be surprised if this Living Center had many people under 65. You are correct, people over 65 are eligible in NC.

    by Debra — February 4, 2021

  18. Hcbury, no, it is not you. I live in a very blue state. The blue states have been vaccinating everyone except seniors, saying that they are applying a “lense of equity”. The blue states are vaccinating all people over 18 by zip code, using the ”Social Vulnerability Index” to determine which communities of color have experienced racism. The problem in my state, is that the data of who is dying and being hospitalized does not support their philosophy. They are using “age adjusted data” and making the claim there has been a “disproportionate impact” on certain communities, Again, the problem is that in my state, the data does not support that Factoring out age in the data set in a pandemic in which 95% of the dead are seniors, yields irrelevant data, especially in the medical realm. I have done much research on this and when you scratch the surface of this theory, it falls apart. So, what is happening in my state is that vaccinations have not been open to any seniors yet. At any rate, the red states are vaccinating seniors right now and some blue states are not.

    by Maimi — February 5, 2021

  19. I think it’s misleading to broadly characterize all “blue state” as following a single policy. In Massachusetts, health care workers, first responders, and those over 75 are the only ones eligible so far…and you can’t get much bluer than MA!

    Editor’s comment: Excellent point CW. Hard to generalize and try to paint this crisis in blue/red terms. The states are all over the lot. Rhode Island is the only state not prioritizing older people. That doesn’t seem to be working too well, as the State is near the bottom in terms of the % of the population getting at least 1 shot (7.4%). This article from NY Times details performance by state as well as listing who is eligible in each state. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/covid-19-vaccine-doses.html

    by CW — February 6, 2021

  20. We would love to hear your vaccine story – whether you have had success or not. If you got your shot(s) – how did you do it – luck or planning, or maybe assistance from a friend? If you have not had any luck, what is your plan? It will be interesting to hear your stories here – thanks!

    by Admin — February 6, 2021

  21. Jennifer, you are a very kind person to do what you did!!

    by Anne — February 6, 2021

  22. My wife and I were basically fortunate — we were able to get our first shot only an hour and a half drive away here in NC and will receive the second this week at the same location. We are 73/72 years old with multiple conditions (heart/immunocompromised plus asthma etc.) and have strictly followed mask and isolation guidance (and will continue to do so).

    We are lucky to also be freely able to travel. NC is currently distributing vaccines thru major hospital systems as well as through county health boards (pharmacies are in progress.) Our hospital offered appointments for specific localities plus the option to be able to go anywhere in the system. All local area appointments were full, but we took the “anywhere” option and got an appointment the next week. Things were very tight — my wife got an appointment and I requested the same time a few minutes later but the slot was already full, but I got one 15 minutes after hers. When we received the shot, they scheduled the second at that time. But again, my wife got an appointment for 3 weeks later and when they tried to schedule me, the whole day was full (a man next to us got the slot). I immediately requested an appointment for both of us the next day (three weeks and one day) and we were successful.

    So my advice would be to stay flexible and move quickly when the opportunity comes.

    by RichPB — February 7, 2021

  23. We are long term snow bird renters here in Florida. Today we got our first Moderna shots at the local community college. It was a very well-run and well-staffed event. A happy place!

    They did check our docs, so I’m glad we had them. Our bank came through with a statement the same day we got called for the appt, which felt serendipitous.

    We get our second vaccine March 7, which means we’ll be past the two -week period to build up antibodies before we have to drive home. Very relieved.

    by Admin — February 7, 2021

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