Fla. county begins requiring proof of residency for vaccine; will SWFL counties follow suit?

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:

One Florida county is no longer vaccinating anyone that cannot show proof of residency.

We’ve heard the stories and the complaints about out-of-towners getting the shots before full-time residents. Some states have made residency a requirement from the start, while Florida said it wouldn’t deny anyone the shot.

But now, in Seminole County, you’ll have to show proof.

Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties say they have no plans to give Floridians any preferential treatment. Some residents, though, believe people should have to show a driver’s license or utility bill that confirms they’re full-time residents.

Out of the last 22 years that Steven and Julie Smith have lived in Florida, they’ve never spent so much time in their Naples home. Both are in their 70s.

“We see the impact of friends of ours that have gotten the COVID disease,” Steven said. “We’ve had one friend that spent three months in the hospital, so we’re very concerned.”

They’ve spent hours online trying to get a vaccine appointment and have had no luck.

You don’t have to live in Collier County to get a shot there, leading to more competition with people driving or flying down for a vaccine.

“We do know friends that have gotten the vaccine from other states; we have a couple of Canadian friends that have been able to get it where the local residents don’t.”

Steven wishes Southwest Florida counties would follow the new regulations for Seminole, where only residents of the state can get a vaccine at a state-run site.

“I think we should be taking care of Florida residents first,” he said.

“We have one of the largest populations of elderly people and I hate to see my friends and the vulnerable people being treated in this manner.”

Jim Edholm doesn’t mind the part-time residents getting vaccines spots.

“After all, we profit from their spending while they’re down here. It helps us set my real estate taxes and my school taxes and everything else, so why should they have to get on a plane and fly back to New York or New Jersey?” he said.

Naples, Bonita Springs and Fort Myers are the top addresses of those being vaccinated in Collier County, according to the FDOH.

RESOURCE: WINK News is working by the minute on a daily basis to bring our coverage areas in Southwest Florida the latest COVID-19 vaccine information from the counties you live in.

Visit our COVID-19 vaccine schedules and information for SWFL story for rolling vaccine updates.

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