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New residency requirements end some snowbirds’ hopes of getting COVID-19 vaccine

Many snowbirds who reside in Southwest Florida half of the year are having their hopes of getting the COVID-19 vaccine dashed. They now fear that they’ll have to leave in order to get their vaccine.

Most of our snowbirds have already moved in for the season and will be here through spring, but under the state’s new rules, not all of them will qualify for a vaccine.

While some of them have their lease agreement handy, they may not have a second proof of residency. The lease agreements they do have often show utilities are included, with the rest of their documents and ID being from another state.

The Schminkys call Burnt Store Marina home for six months out of the year. Lately, though, they haven’t really been able to enjoy Southwest Florida for fear of contracting the coronavirus.

“When you have lots of doctor’s appointments, that’s what your days out are. That’s our date night, the doctors,” said Roy Schminky.

For weeks, the couple has been trying and failing to get an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s a full-time job now,” Schminky said. “Between my wife’s chemo appointments down here and all that stuff, and then we come back to do that, it’s like, I’m back to work.”

Work that has gone unrewarded as of late. And, with the Florida surgeon general’s new rules, he’s worried that reward will never come.

“I feel like we’re on a roller coaster,” he said. “It’s unfortunate.”

According to the state Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees, a seasonal resident is anyone who lives in the state for more than 31 consecutive days each year.

In order for people in Florida to get their shots, they have to provide two forms of documentation, which could include a deed, mortgage, or rental agreement in addition to a utility bill, bank or tax statement, or a piece of mail from a government agency.

“Our utility bills are included in our lease or in our rent, I should say, and consequently, I don’t have two documents. I have a lease. But I don’t have any other kind of document that would show proof that we are here for that length of time,” Schminky said.

This is the situation many snowbirds are finding themselves in.

I think they need to rethink it and I think there are going to be a lot of other people in my position. In fact, I know people right now,” said Schminky. “I mean there’s more than just us.”

WINK News reached out to Gov. Ron DeSantis and his team about what the new requirements mean but have not yet heard back.

Reporter:Andryanna Sheppard
Writer:Drew Hill
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