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Florida eases vaccine residency requirement, paving way for migrants

State and federal vaccine sites will no longer ask for multiple documents showing proof of residency.
A woman receives driving instructions after receiving a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on April 13 at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s TGT vaccination site, 755 E Waters Ave, in Tampa.
A woman receives driving instructions after receiving a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on April 13 at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s TGT vaccination site, 755 E Waters Ave, in Tampa. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Apr. 30
Updated Apr. 30

A new road to vaccination for undocumented migrants and others has opened as some Florida sites put an end to requiring proof of residency in order to get inoculated.

Starting Friday, all state-supported sites and federally supported vaccination sites in Florida will no longer ask for multiple documents showing proof of residency.

Instead, these sites are moving to a verbal proof system that is meant to make it easier for undocumented migrants and others who live or work in Florida to get vaccinated, said Florida Division of Emergency Management spokeswoman Samantha Bequer.

“Individuals will be asked if they are a Florida resident or if they are present in Florida for the purposes of providing goods or services,” the division said in an email.

Related: Vaccinated Floridians don’t need to wear masks, state health advisory says

The new rule will apply at all state-run sites and FEMA-supported sites, including Tampa.

This decision came after the Miami Herald had reported that undocumented people were being increasingly turned away from vaccination sites as they did not meet some requirements, like proof of residency.

This rule change is part of a new public health advisory that Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees issued late Thursday. The Division of Emergency Management said these efforts are with the goal of increasing vaccine access — especially now that sites are seeing lower demand.

In the past, Florida residents only needed to show a driver’s license; while snowbirds, or seasonal residents, needed to provide two documents that showed proof of residency.

A new process

Everyone who wants a shot will still need to fill out a screening and consent form on site. The verbal proof system will be easy to navigate as well.

You will be asked if you are a Florida resident or if you are present in Florida for business. If you say yes, you can get a shot, according to the division.

Proof of age will still be required to comply with FDA emergency-use authorization. Moderna and J&J’s minimum age is 18 years old. Pfizer starts at age 16.

Teens 16 and 17 years old can show a driver’s license, ID card or birth certificate. If they don’t have the documents readily available, their parent or legal guardian — who must be at the vaccination with them — can also confirm their age.

Snowbirds, or seasonal residents, can also still get a vaccine.

These new rules and lower barriers for entry for vaccination could potentially lead to more undocumented migrants being inoculated.

Experts have told the Miami Herald that reports of immigrants being turned away have been rising, and a South Miami-Dade expert said most laborers and agricultural workers in the area don’t have access to the vaccine.

El Nuevo Herald has found evidence that suggests the majority of Miami-Dade Hispanics want to get vaccinated and are doing so at normal rates, despite encountering barriers like lack of legal documentation and not being able to speak English or Spanish (only speaking indigenous Latin American languages).

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