Attorney General Ashley Moody on Friday defended Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ decision to limit Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine supply to Sunshine State residents.
Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees issued new guidelines on Thursday, requiring vaccine-seekers to provide proof of permanent or seasonal-residence.
Those guidelines come after an unknown number of vaccine-seekers have reportedly traveled to Florida solely to receive a vaccine — a practice described by some as “vaccine tourism.”
Notably, Florida’s vaccine eligibility is broader than elsewhere. Vaccines in Florida are available to those 65 and older, long-term care residents, health care personnel and people considered highly vulnerable to the virus.
“This is truly life and death for seniors,” Moody said on FOX News. “But there’s a limited supply given to each state, and our Governor is charged with the responsibility of protecting Floridians, our residents, full-time and part-time.”
Moody stopped short of threatening prosecution or consequences during the interview. She described vaccine tourism, however, as a “shameless practice.”
Florida, meanwhile, is in its sixth week of vaccine rollout.
Earlier this month, DeSantis noted that vaccine registration hotlines have received calls from foreigners and out-of-staters.
Alternatively, the Governor also noted that snowbirds pay Florida taxes, use state medical services and stay months at a time.
The position garnered considerable criticism.
“We’re a transient state,” DeSantis contended. “You’ll have people that will be here and it’s not like they’re just on vacation for two weeks.”
Last week, Rivkees told a Senate panel that 97% of the state’s vaccine supply has gone to Floridians. Later, Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz described vaccine tourism as “abhorrent.”
Florida has administered more than 1.3 million COVID-19 vaccines as of Friday. Of those, only 139,245 vaccine recipients have completed the two-dose series.
Among other issues is a nationally sluggish COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
DeSantis on Friday said the state is ready and waiting for more federal supplies.
“I’m confident we’re going to be able to move a heck of a lot of vaccines if we get it,” DeSantis said.