Thousands of students in South Florida, which is home to many international students, do not have state-issued identification cards. It’s also tough, if not impossible, for them to obtain gas bills or other papers in their name to prove they still live here. However, to be eligible for a COVID-19 immunization jab, when requesting a vaccine appointment, the state wants confirmation of residency. To address this problem, the Jackson Health System, Miami-Dade County’s public hospital network, has teamed up with five local universities — FIU, Miami Dade College, Florida Memorial University, Barry University, and the University of Miami — to enable foreign and out-of-state students to receive the vaccine by showing their student identification card, as well as a driver’s licence or passport.
This new development could enable colleges to be able to reopen their campuses earlier than planned. Although most colleges will continue to follow safety standards such as masks, social distance, and regular hand washing during the summer and fall semesters, they will relax the rules even further if a significant percentage of their student body is vaccinated.
CEO of Miami-Dade’s public health system, Carlos Migoya said, “There are two different definitions of Florida residency: official Florida residents and people who live in Florida. But both can spread the disease.” He added, “They are both parts of the community.” He also said,” “Young people think, ‘I am healthy, I won’t get vaccinated.’ But it’s not just about themselves, but about the people around them. So, we must emphasize that everyone should get vaccinated.”
An international student who got the inaugural vaccine as part of the new programme said, “I sent them (family) a photo and they went crazy.” She added, “They are super excited, and I, as an international student, know how difficult it is for us to get the vaccine. So, I am very grateful.”