Americans are being told to wait until it is their turn to get a coronavirus vaccine while wealthy Mexicans are heading north to the United States to get vaccinated.
In Mexico, only five percent of citizens have been vaccinated and the wait time is lengthy.
David Gutiérrez Inzunza, a Baja California state public health official in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, said the state has been hit hard by the coronavirus. He was one of thousands of people registered with severe cases there in the past year.
He said only those who have had the disease understand how he feels. He had to get his hand on a vaccine quickly. But most of Tijuana’s limited supply was going to front-line hospital workers. So he looked for options. And the best was to get the vaccine across the border in San Diego, Calif. He has gotten both doses at a local Vons grocery store chain.
Gutiérrez was born in San Diego and has a California ID. He said he obtained the identification using his brother’s home address in San Diego. He insists that no one at the vaccination site checked whether he worked or resided in the county, the two requirements necessary to get a shot there.
“If they had asked me, I would have told the truth and left,” Gutiérrez said.
The NPR report also said “vaccine tourism” is happening in Florida where it is estimated that 128,000 “out of state” individuals have gotten shots in the state. Officials have said they are going to tighten ID requirements.
“But vaccine tourism has become a bit of a phenomenon in Mexico,” Kahn reported. “It’s easy to find testimonies and tips on social media and in chat groups about getting a vaccine in the U.S.”
That includes Mexican TV host Juan José Origel who posted recently on Instagram about getting his second vaccine dose in Miami:
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“Here I am walking and walking, all around,” Origel said. “They didn’t even ask for my visa.”
Mauricio Fernández Garza, a mayoral candidate for San Pedro Garza García, a wealthy suburb of northern Monterrey, posted on Facebook about traveling to to Texas to get vaccinated.
Vail, Colorado, was also on the list of vaccine travel destinations, according to NPR, which reported that the state already supports illegal aliens living and working there.
Kris Widlak, a government spokeswoman in Colorado’s Eagle County, said the state guidelines are purposely broad so that undocumented residents, many who work in the city’s hotels and resorts, won’t be afraid of getting the vaccine.
But in South Texas, State Representative Eddie Morales (D) said people are complaining about those who are “jumping the line.” Morales said he was told about a private plane with 12 Mexicans on board who got vaccinated in the small Texas town of Pecos.
“It’s these influential superrich Mexicans that have the means and are rigging the system,” said Morales, who wants residency rules to be tightened. “To make sure that the folks here in Texas are getting vaccinated before we can continue caring for others and our neighbors.”
Gutiérrez, the health official who went to San Diego for his vaccination, said in the NPR report that health is more important than borders.
”In this particular case, amid a worldwide pandemic, life and health of everyone should be priority No. 1,” he said.