Vaccine Tourism: Why We Went to the USA to Get Vaccinated

Vaccine Tourism: Why We Went to the USA to Get Vaccinated

This past weekend my husband, Arturo, and I went to the USA to get vaccinated against COVID-19. There are many reasons why we and others are making the decision to get vaccinated abroad and I’m going to share them with you. I will also be sharing information on countries willing to vaccinate travelers and more. Here is why we participated in vaccine tourism.

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What is Vaccine Tourism?

Vaccine tourism is a kind of medical tourism that is gaining popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If people from one country don’t have access to a COVID vaccine (maybe they aren’t in the right age group or there is a shortage of vaccines in their own country) and can afford to go abroad to get vaccinated, they may go get vaccinated in another country.

Unequal Global Distribution of Vaccines

COVID 19 Unequal Global Vaccine Distribution

The main reason that people are traveling to get vaccinated is because of the unequal global distribution of COVID vaccines. Did you know that the USA bought 3 times the amount of vaccines they need to vaccinate their entire adult population? Many wealthy countries like the USA have also done this leaving poorer countries with very limited resources. Not to mention, there are many people in the USA who are anti-vaxxers and therefore don’t even want a vaccine. So where are all those extra doses going? While the USA is sending some vaccines to Mexico, Canada and India, many vaccine doses are simply being discarded.

To help distribute vaccines to countries with limited resources you can donate here to the Gavi Vaccine Alliance. 

The Controversy Around Vaccine Tourism

Vaccine Tourism / COVID-19 Vaccine being Administered

There is definitely some controversy around vaccine tourism. This is because the country that buys the vaccines usually wants to vaccinate its own population first, which makes sense. The other main concern is that people traveling to other countries to get vaccinated could bring COVID or variants of the virus with them on their way there. The thing is though, every nurse and doctor I’ve heard from and talked to is saying that we need to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible. So if that means traveling to get vaccinated because you can’t get vaccinated where you live, I’m personally all for it.

In fact, since the USA has now fully vaccinated about 46.4% of its population, they are actually advertising to Mexicans to go get vaccinated there. There are hotel deals in certain places in the USA that offer discounts to stay there if you are visiting to get vaccinated. It’s not just the USA either. Travel packages around the world are offering vaccinations to entice travelers. Currently, places such as the Maldives, Dubai, the United Kingdom, and other countries and cities around the world are offering vaccinations to travelers.

Why We Went to the USA from Mexico to Get Vaccinated

Vaccine Tourism - Happy to be vaccinated
Happy to be vaccinated with the J&J vaccine!

So why did we personally choose to travel in order to receive our vaccines? My husband and I live in Mexico. He is Mexican and I am Canadian. Currently (June 30, 2021), the Mexican government has only just started vaccinating people aged 40 and up. We are in our late twenties so we still cannot get vaccinated here. We could go to Canada, where I’m from, but currently, all unvaccinated people have to do a two-week quarantine when entering Canada. And since we don’t have our own house or apartment in Canada, that would be two weeks spent in an Airbnb or hotel which would be very pricey for us.

The other issue is that I have exercise-induced asthma as well as an anxiety disorder and other mental illnesses so this pandemic has been extremely difficult to navigate for us. We just didn’t see the point in continuing to wait for the vaccine to be available here when there is a surplus of vaccines available across the border. Not only that, but now when we do move back to Canada, we can do so with only a 3-day quarantine instead of a 2 week one.

All of this is why we ultimately decided to travel to Houston, Texas, to receive our vaccines. We were even able to choose which vaccine we wanted! We chose the Johnson and Johnson vaccine so that we would only need one dose and wouldn’t have to make another trip for second doses.

How to Get Vaccinated in the USA

If you are planning a trip to get vaccinated in the USA here are some resources and websites you can book appointments through. It’s pretty easy to find appointments in the USA right now since most citizens who want vaccines have already received them.

Donate to the Gavi Vaccine Alliance to Help with Global Vaccine Distribution

I am personally quite angry that wealthy countries are continuing to buy way more vaccines than they need while other countries suffer. Ultimately no one should have to spend tons of money to travel abroad for a necessary vaccine. If you want to help end the unequal distribution of vaccines globally and help people with limited resources get vaccinated, please donate some money to the Gavi Vaccine Alliance here. 

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