Do you know someone who has gone to the United States to vaccinate? Well, it is more and more frequent to do vaccine tourism.
According to the latest estimate released by the Undersecretary of Health, Hugo López-Gatell, some 2 million Mexicans have traveled to the United States in recent months to get immunized against Covid-19.
But what do the US health authorities think? Tec Review He consulted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and they responded that it is more important for them to contribute to herd immunity than to prove American nationality.
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How is vaccine tourism experienced?
Jimena Herrera is one of those tourists. He suffered from Covid-19 in December of last year and in January he began to hear of cases of reinfection.
That fear and the testimony of many others who had already come and gone from the United States with the complete vaccination schedule encouraged her to make the trip.
She and her family – five people in total – traveled to Texas in April to get vaccinated.
“We got vaccinated at a Walmart in Texas, it was very easy to make the appointment, the staff told us that almost everyone who was vaccinated there was Mexican and that tourism was already returning ”.
The Herrera Iturbe had decided on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it was a single dose, they made the appointment on April 12 and the next day in the morning they suspended its use in the USA, so they ended up immunized with the vaccine Modern.
Is it easy to get vaccinated in the United States?
Sara Martínez’s family decided to go to the United States to vaccinate because their jobs asked them to be immunized.
They reviewed the vaccination tourist packages, but their cost was very high, up to 40,000 per person, so they decided to go on their own to Los Angeles, California.
“It is very easy to register the appointment, some pages only open when you get there, but in general they are vaccinating in every corner, we get vaccinated the day after we arrive and the rest of us go for a walk ”, says Sara.
For the Martínez family, getting vaccinated was quite an event, they wanted to record everything, but for the staff at the pharmacy where they were vaccinated, it was very common.
“They told us: go to the fund and in the pharmacy they give them the vaccine. They don’t ask you to check anything, no identification, they just verify the registration and fill out a form with your name, date of birth and ID number ”.
Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, Former secretary of tourism and director of the Center for the Future of Cities of the Tec de Monterrey explains that the lack of demand to receive the vaccine has its origin in the illegal population of the United States.
“If they had put the requirement of proving residency or nationality on immigrants, they would have scared them away. The lack of demand at first was not to scare away those who do not have legal residence, because leaving them without vaccination implied a risk for them and for the rest of the population ”.
Medical tourism is a common practice, it involves international travel for medical care For various reasons: it is not available in the country of origin, it is less expensive elsewhere, there are better recommendations and, in addition, the country where it takes place is a great vacation destination.
America has enough vaccines in order to serve its population and visitors.
“I have not seen it as a declared policy, but I do understand it as a strategy to promote the tourism towards the United States around the vaccine ”, indicates the former secretary of tourism of Mexico.
The simple vaccination requirements were a strategy to vaccinate the undocumented population, but later “they saw a great opportunity to generate business.”
The U.S. government probably costs $ 30 for the vaccine, but a tourist it takes them $ 2,000 of spending. Instead of sending you the vaccine, send me the tourist”, Explains De la Madrid.
Tec Review consulted the United States (CDC) about this vaccine tourism.
Jade fulce, a specialist in Public Affairs for the CDC, said the country seeks to help herd immunity … regardless of nationality.
“Receiving the vaccine helps meet the public health goal of achieving herd immunity. To promote that goal, CDC does not require United States citizenship for people to receive a vaccine”.
This Monday, June 21, the United States extended the covid-19 restrictions on non-essential travel by land and ferry crossings to Canada and Mexico until July 21.
“This fact only marks more the obvious vaccine tourism, the United States is more convenient for a tourist who buys a flight than one who takes his car and crosses the border”, Explains the Dr. Ricardo Fagoaga Hernández, specialist in social anthropologist and History of Latin America.
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How much does it cost to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in the United States?
Even if the vaccine is free getting to it is not. You have to contemplate the plane, food, transportation and lodging. And that is what is generating an important economic spill in our neighboring country.
Jimena Herrera and her family spent 24,000 pesos per person on his trip to Texas to receive the schematic of vaccination full.
The Martínez family invested 18,000 pesos for the flight and lodging for three people for four days to California. Ana Neveu’s family spent 50,000 pesos for five people.
“There are commercial packages that offer this situation – referring to vaccine tourism – and charge between 14,000 and 15,000 pesos for the entire process and there are people who have opted for it,” said the Undersecretary of Health and strategist of the government of Mexico for the pandemic, Hugo López-Gatell.
The Martinezes found packages of up to 40,000 pesos per person in Texas, but costs vary by location.
The most popular states are Texas, Arizona, and Louisiana, where immunization is unrestricted in the registry of the immigration status of patients.
Vaccinated and on vacation abroad
During Sara’s trip to Los Angeles, everywhere she saw tourists with stickers that said: I was vaccinated at Wallgreens, at Sam’s Club, at Dodger Stadium.
“Everyone is going to get vaccinated and that’s what you hear on the plane, people talk about where will you go to get vaccinated and what he will do after that ”, says Sara Martínez.
The Martinezes toured Los Angeles after their vaccination, although they did experience some side effects such as fatigue, covid arm —Feeling of heaviness and poor mobility—, headache, chills and vertigo.
Sara and her parents visited Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Malibu, San Diego, Rodeo Drive, Long Beach, and more.
“It was a good experience, there are appointments every five minutes and in some places they enabled night appointments. They asked us in which language we wanted the attention and they gave us the exact date of our next dose. In Mexico you have to wait for the next shipment to arrive and see when they call you, in the United States you already have your dose set aside”.
One of the sectors most affected in the pandemic was The tourism.
Overnight people stopped traveling, going to restaurants, hotels, getting on a plane. Through vaccines, a great opportunity opens up for the United States to strengthen tourism.
“To the extent that other countries continue or continue behind, the United States will have the advantage of having vaccines and continuing to receive people and that will be a while,” says the director of the Center for the Future of Cities of the Tec de Monterrey.
Ana Neveu, is planning her holidays to Houston in mid-July, she is the only one in her family to be vaccinated and will take advantage of this trip to do so.
“At first I saw it as a very privileged position and I wasn’t sure. My family went to San Antonio, but now that I am going back to face-to-face classes, I am afraid of infecting them, the vaccine is not complete immunity, I know what it works for and now I see it as a good thing ”.
Is it safe to get vaccinated abroad and fly back?
Regarding medical tourism and some specific operations, the CDC warns that air travel increases the risk of blood clots, but with “Covid-19 vaccines there is no contraindication or risk in air travel“, Says the doctor Andreu Comas Garcia of the Laboratory of Virology, in the Department of Microbiology of the Faculty of Medicine of the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí.
This kind of tourism is a solution for those who did not see the way out in the short term.
“Ideally, there are enough vaccines in our countries and that we all get vaccinated – up to now, more or less 15% of the Mexican population has been vaccinated. This exit works well for the United States, but not for the rest of the world ”.
The vaccination tourism it has only highlighted the inequity and inequality between rich countries that were able to concentrate vaccines and those that are slow or awaiting doses.
Not everyone can afford a trip to the United States with all the expenses that it implies and less thinking that they must spend the same again in a second round to complete their vaccination schedule.
“The pandemic has embodied the inequality on a global scale on the production of knowledge and its own biopolitics: human control. It seems that the lives of first world people are worth more than the countries of the periphery, that life has a certain price and that if you want to live you have to pay”, Explains the sociologist, Raul Anthony Olmedo Neri.
We all have to be vaccinated to be sure “otherwise this pandemic is going to stay here or it is going to last and it will also affect the rich like the United States because a large part of its economy depends on the rest of the world prospering. ”, Exposes de la Madrid.
So far the Ministry of Health registers 2 million Mexicans vaccinated in the United States and counting…