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Anthony DeFillipo Major of North Miami Beach. Photo from https://anthonyfdefillipo.com/. 
Anthony DeFillipo, Mayor of North Miami Beach. Photo: https://anthonyfdefillipo.com/

North Miami Beach mayor backtracks and discourages tourists from traveling for vaccinations

Authorities have denied the North Miami Beach mayor's statements on "COVID tourism."

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Statements made by the mayor of the small town of North Miami Beach, Anthony DeFillipo, have generated confusion among foreigners and locals as to what the vaccination rules are in the southern state.

Last Friday, he stated in an interview that his city is vaccinating tourists, and assured that he had contacted the consulates of Peru, Colombia and Honduras in South Florida to offer vaccinations to their residents visiting Miami.

On Monday, April 26, the mayor and the state office have denied these statements in a new statement, but the confusion among local and foreign social network users continues to grow.

The vaccine system in the United States is determined by the states, but it is the federal government that is in charge of purchasing the vaccines. While each state can determine what the vaccination rules are in its region, and distribute the doses received among the various municipalities and counties, they must abide by the state rules.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis  has signed a rule that expands the eligibility criteria for those who can receive the vaccine. Anyone 18 years of age or older, or 16 years of age or older accompanied by a guardian, can be vaccinated by demonstrating residency in the state of Florida.

"All municipalities must follow the rule imposed by the governor, we have no authority to change it on our own," explained the director of emergency management for the city of Miami, Robert Hevia.

It is no secret that many Latin American tourists are going to Florida to get vaccinated. Despite the fact that there are a huge number of vaccination centers, controlled by all kinds of entities — public and private — some people have managed to circumvent the system.

This shows that in practice it is difficult to control measures and residency testing in each state. It is not yet clear whether there will be any consequences for municipalities that do not comply with these rules.

At the beginning of the vaccination process, when the doses were very limited, it generated indignation among locals when several tourists posted on their social networks that they had managed to get inoculated in Miami.

Even DeSantis himself and the mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, came out to condemn the facts, assuring that the priority was the residents of Florida. The request for residency to receive a vaccine may be counterproductive for the undocumented community living in Florida, but so far there has been no concrete response from the governor's office.

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