A trend of vaccine tourism is on the rise across the United States as countries around the world start experiencing a shortage of coronavirus jab doses. The availability of the vaccines varies from country to country and in recent months, the shortage of vaccines in many parts of the world has encouraged many foreigners to head to the US to benefit from the free jab scheme currently in place in the country.
The BBC’s Taiwan correspondent Cindy Sui has been speaking to a few ‘vaccine’ tourists at San Francisco airport.
Anyone who is able to pass through customs can get a free shot, provided that they do not have Covid and are at least 18 years old.
One tourist, Amber Jo from Taiwan has spent $18,000 solely on plane tickets and hotel lodgings for a month all for the two-shot vaccines.
She insisted the cost she had been facing “is all worth it” to ensure she secures access to the vaccination.
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Ms Jo said: “I have a daughter who is 7 years old, and my parents are over 70-years-old.
“I need to protect myself, then I can protect my family.
“I feel so happy right now. I feel like a superwoman!”
Doug Yakel, the Public information officer from San Francisco International Airport said: “We’ve got a surplus supply, and being able to make that available for others is really a good thing and it really helps everyone.
Tourists simply have to fill out a form at a pharmacy, provide an ID, and then get jabbed.
Nearly 50 percent of US residents are fully vaccinated but the rates are significantly lower than in many other countries.
The boom comes as US President Joe Biden prepares to announce that all civilian federal workers will need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and travel limits, a source familiar with the matter said.
President Biden, who will deliver remarks on COVID-19 at the White House at 8pm GMT on Thursday, will not mandate vaccines for federal employees and those who decide against getting a vaccine will not be at risk of being fired, the source said.
The United States has about 2.18 million civilian employees and another 570,000 people work for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), according to 2020 data. It is not clear if Biden plans to apply the requirement to the postal service or to contractors who work for the federal government.