What is vaccine tourism?

Vaccine tourism is helping some people beat the wait for the potentially lifesaving Covid vaccine. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

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More than 50 million people across the world, including four million in the UK, have already received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Nevertheless, there’s still a long way to go, and it could be a while before everyone gets the vaccine. But for those who want the jab without the wait, a new option has entered the frame: ‘vaccine tourism’. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

What is vaccine tourism?

It’s travelling to another country, city or region for a Covid-19 jab when it’s unavailable to you where you live.

Though not particularly prevalent in the UK, vaccine tourism is becoming a big thing in some countries, like the US.

Several publications including the Wall Street Journal report that foreigners and out-of-state visitors have been flocking to the American state of Florida in the hope of getting the Covid-19 jab. This follows a previous decision by the state to allow even non-residents to get the vaccine.

In fact, vaccine tourism has become such an issue in the state that officials recently began requiring proof of residency from people for Covid-19 vaccinations.

How did vaccine tourism start?

According to reports, it all started in India back in November. That was right around the time that the first successful Covid-19 vaccine trials were announced. Local travel companies began claiming that they could assist customers in skipping the wait for the Covid-19 jab through ‘vaccine tourism packages’.

In a WhatsApp message that went viral, one company said that it would facilitate tours to the United States for a few select clients who wanted to get Pfizer’s Covid vaccine as soon as it was approved. Not surprisingly, other travel companies soon picked up the idea and began advertising similar services. 

Right now, vaccine tourism is no longer just an idea. It’s actually happening. Here in the UK, concierge service Knightsbridge Circle is offering its members trips to the UAE and India for vaccination.

What are the costs?

Naturally, costs will vary depending on where you are travelling to. It also depends on whether you’re travelling as part of a larger trip package.

Forbes reports that some wealthy Canadians have been ponying up as much as $80,000 (£58,000) to charter planes for same-day vaccination trips to Florida.

Brits who want to get the jab without the wait by flying abroad are also having to dig deep. The Mirror reports that super-rich Brits are having to cough up as much as £40,000 for private Covid vaccine trips to places like Dubai.  

Final word

Reports suggest that it might take up to a year to vaccinate the entire UK population. It could take even longer to vaccinate the whole world.

And so, regardless of your views about vaccine tourism, I think it’s something that could become more mainstream with time as people try to speed up the process of getting the potentially lifesaving jab for themselves and their loved ones.

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