US Makes Vaccine Available to Overseas Visitors

Health and Gender Policy Brief # 120 | By: S Bhimji | July 30, 2021

Header photo taken from: Reuters




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Photo taken from: CNET

Policy Summary

Because of the high cost of healthcare in the USA, for much of the past 20 years, many Americans have sought medical care abroad going as far as India for heart surgery, Thailand for massage therapy, to Israel for liposuction, and so on. In addition, many Americans have undergone cosmetic and weight loss surgery in  Central American countries and Europe. The cost of healthcare in these nations is only a fraction of what it would cost in the USA.

But now America has opened up its borders for foreigners in search of the COVID vaccine.. You can get the covid vaccine here for FREE- even if you cannot speak a word of English, and have never lived in America.

Policy Analysis

Reports indicate that most medical tourists who want the covid vaccine are from Central and South America. And for the past 7 months, the number of tourists arriving for the vaccine has increased dramatically. Just from Peru alone, 70,000 of its citizens made the trip north for vaccination. And airline owners in Latin America have noticed a major spike in trips to the USA, especially for the vaccine.

Latin America has a severe shortage of vaccines because of shipment delays and only 3% of Latinos have been fully vaccinated against covid 19.  For those who can afford the airfare and cost of a hotel stay, this is one way to solve the vaccine shortage.


Photo taken from: Daily Advent

Many South Americans feel that their governments are simply not doing enough and they have no choice but to come to the USA. The visitors who do get the vaccine are immensely grateful to America. It is not just the South Americans who are into vaccine tourism- many Canadians who reside in Florida have also got the vaccine for free in the US.

However those who do come here to get the vaccine are generally wealthy enough  to afford the associated  travel and other related expenses. While there is nothing wrong or illegal in providing them with a COVID shot once they arrive, they represent a small and privileged  segment of their country’s population. It would be better if the US could make more of its surplus vaccines available for the entire population of these counties.

Engagement Resources​

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