“The scandalous inequity of vaccine distribution, concentrated mainly in a few rich countries, not only prolongs the pandemic, but threatens even well-vaccinated nations with the risk of new, drug-resistant strains”
– World Health Organization
While the virus lies in the center of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the bigger struggles of the pandemic has been the vaccine. First, there wasn’t any and now that there is one, not everyone has immediate access to it.
83% of Covid-19 vaccines administered worldwide have gone to high & upper-middle-income countries. An unfortunate fact remains that only 0.2% of doses have gone to low income countries.
What Are The Different Covid-19 Vaccines?
- Pfizer BioNTech
- Johnson & Johnson
- Sputnik V
Most governments are either struggling to provide sufficient vaccines or are struggling to administer it to their citizens in a systematic manner. Worse, not every country has sufficient doses to cater to its own population. As a result, citizens with means are trying to access it from abroad, if possible.
Vaccine Tourism – Is It Real? Do You Qualify?
As Covid death rates are coming down, people are more convinced of the effectiveness of the different Covid vaccines. As a result, they are finding ways to acquire it as soon as possible. However, inequitable vaccine distribution worldwide has led to people traveling to countries that have enough and more to share. Vaccine tourism in countries like USA, Maldives, Russia, and Thailand are gaining more popularity.
Not only does vaccine tourism increase herd immunity but it also boosts local tourism and therefore, local economy. Countries like Guam and Thailand are offering Covid-19 vaccinations to all visitors.
Free Covid-19 Vaccinations In The USA
In the United States, over 331.5 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered already. All free of cost. Determined to provide herd immunity, the U.S. has also supplied over 20 million doses of the vaccine abroad. To add to this, and actively supporting vaccine tourism, now the U.S. government offers vaccine to anyone who asks for it – legal as well as undocumented immigrants!
20 U.S. states and one territory, including California, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Puerto Rico no longer have residency requirements, meaning that providers will vaccinate even nonresidents.
Certain cities are going above and beyond and offering vaccines to tourists as well. New York City has set up pop-up clinics for both residents and visitors inside subway stations and airports. They also offer the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to tourists in places like Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge and the High Line. Alaska is offering travelers doses of Pfizer or Moderna shots (which require two doses) at its four largest airports.
How Can You Access A Covid Vaccine In The U.S.?
People are traveling from all over the world to access free vaccines in the U.S. However, border closures and travel bans are preventing an all-round surge of people entering the U.S. borders.
Some exceptions are offered despite the travel ban. IF you qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE) you may enter the U.S. even if you are from any of the restricted countries.
To Receive The Vaccine
- You may approach and walk in to any vaccination clinic or pharmacy and request for a vaccine.
- While walk-ins are welcome in most locations, some might require an online appointment. These are easy to get from their respective websites.
- You do not have to show proof of residency
- You might be asked for some of ID. If you are not a U.S. resident, you may show a national identity cards or passports, which again is not mandatory.
- You have to fill out a simple form with very basic information
- Once you are given the first dose, you will be given a card that notates that date plus the future date for the second vaccine shot.
Vaccine Tourism – Other Countries
Makers of their vaccine are offering a vaccination program for foreigners in Russia. Trips to Moscow and other mobile clinic sites are being offered to receive the Sputnik vaccine.
Several tour operators in Thailand are offering round trips to the U.S. for $6,400 that include the option to receive either the Johnson & Johnson or the two-dose Pfizer vaccine.
After inoculating the local population, they are now earmarking extra doses for arriving travelers.
Maldives, Guam & Philippines
With 60% of its residents already inoculated, and on track to reach herd immunity by July end, the island is banking on vaccine tourism, along with vaccinated tourists, to jumpstart its economic rebound.
Cost Of Getting A Vaccine From A Different Country Other Than Your Home Country
Recent data shows that close to 400,000 Mexican citizens have received their Covid vaccine in the United States. Approximately, 1.2 million planning are still expected to cross the borders to receive the it over the course of the year.
Vaccine tourism favors those who have the means to travel internationally. Borders have been closed and travel bans are in place for many countries. While some exceptions are being made, and the vaccine itself is free of cost, it still is an expensive proposition.
Flight costs have especially increased to the U.S. recent data suggested that there has been a 40% to 542% increase in flight fares. Airlines like American Airlines has noted an increased demand for flights to the United States from Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico and has responded by increasing capacity.
Lastly, having trip insurance during a time like this seems to be the most prudent thing. While everyone is planning to resume travel, buying a “Cancel for Any Reason” (CFAR) insurance plan will not only give you peace of mind, but also give you the flexibility to plan travel in uncertain times like these.
Related Article: Get Your Trip Insurance Plan Here