Tourists coming from various countries to US for COVID-19 vaccine, says US airport official
Washington, Aug 5: The global shortage of vaccines and its excess in the United States has quietly resulted in a new kind of tourism in the US, said an official. Rich people from various countries of the world have been travelling to the United States to get shots of the COVID-19 vaccines, do some shopping and then fly back to their home country after a short stay.
Known as "vaccine tourism," this concept represents the fastest-growing category of visitors to the SFO Medical Clinic, where the free Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine is administered, the San Francisco International Airport said Wednesday. The international airport in California is the first US airport to have released such data on vaccine tourism.
"At present, 80 percent of new vaccine appointments at SFO are coming from non-US citizens, and over 1,000 doses have already been administered to visitors from 58 countries around the world," the airport said.
Of these 1,000, only eight are from India. The top five countries on this vaccine tourism list are Taiwan, Mexico, Philippines, South Korea and Peru. The figures are low for India, mainly because of the travel restrictions from India as imposed by the US due to the surge of coronavirus. "This trend truly represents a win-win situation for all," said Airport Director Ivar C Satero.
"It ensures that vaccine doses do not go unused by making them available to those who may have trouble accessing it in their home country. It also stimulates travel and visitor spending for the Bay Area, and - most importantly - it helps protect against community spread of the virus. My thanks go out to the entire team for making this program a reality," Satero said.
Since late May, the SFO Medical Clinic, located pre-security in the International Terminal, has been offering free single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines on an appointment basis.