America’s vaccine towns are experiencing unexpected boon

Published on : Wednesday, April 7, 2021

On February 14th, at around 8 a.m., the very minute New York made me suitable for the vaccine of COVID-19; I fired up my laptop and started looking for a shot. During the process of five this minutes, I blasted my way through a laggy eligibility screener, remained calm for the confirmation page to unfreeze, and landed on the portal listing the mass-vaccination sites of the state at last. “Appointments available,” promised the Westchester County Center, the one closest to my house.

To sign up I clicked, but it was too late. I moved on to Manhattan’s Javits Center within 45 seconds, where I seemed to have caught up an appointment but then was met with an error screen. I worked my way down the list of sites and continued to strike out. Long Island? Nothing. Albany? Nope. Binghamton? Nada. Virtually after almost going here and there for half an hour of online search, refreshing, and waiting, I got a slot finally: February 26, at 4:30 p.m., in Plattsburgh … a four-and-a-half-hour drive from where I live.

You’ve guessed right! I am a vaccine tourist, one of at least hundreds of thousands of Americans who have traveled beyond their community or region to get this much desirable shot. Vaccine tourism is a broad phenomenon that involves residents driving to various to parts within their state as well as Californians flying to Florida. In some cases, like mine, this is allowed explicitly: New York’s Plattsburgh site is open to anyone of this state. But in other cases, it is forbidden. That’s because vaccine tourists have been blamed for creating an even worse situation of the pandemic which is already in an uneven toll. The people who can afford to take time off from work and fly or drive many hours for a shot are more likely to be well-off, in theory taking doses that would otherwise have gone to more vulnerable local residents.

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