My wife and I are native Minnesotans in our 70s, renting a home three months each year for the last eight years on St. George island. We decided to return this year despite COVID, given the Florida mandate not to discriminate against vaccination of snowbirds announced at the beginning of the year.
We registered for vaccination as soon as we could on arrival. During the waiting period, we learned of the change of rules to qualify for vaccination which now disqualify us. The new rule requires two "proofs'' of temporary/part time residence. The list of legitimate "proofs'' eliminates most or all snowbirds who rent for extended periods of time in the area. We have one of the proofs (our three-month rental agreement) but not the other (a utility bill in our name). Utilities are included in all vacation rental agreements in the area. The other “proofs” options are impractical to extended stay snowbirds.
This new mandate in vaccination distribution may be of little concern to residents of the area / county, but is very concerning and seemingly short sighted to the thousands who spend months on the Forgotten Coast. I believe most residents, business owners, and city/county leaders value our stay in this beautiful area.
This new COVID vaccination policy is problematic in many ways a few being: Snowbirds can contract and spread COVID no different from full-time residents, thereby increasing the strain on medical resources; The policy is not being enforced equally across county borders (We know of at least three cases of snowbirds receiving vaccination in other counties in the last week}; By not extending this crucial federally supported health service to long-term snowbirds gives a message of lack of appreciation for our support/contribution to the area.
We appreciate the complexity and problems of distribution of this vaccine on all levels. We are a group of part time residents with little local government leverage in the area and only wish to be heard.
This article originally appeared on The Apalachicola Times: Letter: 'Proofs' policy impedes snowbird vaccinations