Wealthy Latin Americans are traveling to the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, this according to a report by the Associated Press.
“It’s a matter of survival,” Virginia González told the AP. “In Mexico, officials didn’t buy enough vaccines. It’s like they don’t care about their citizens.”
González and her husband, who is a cancer patient, took a flight from Monterrey, Mexico, to Houston and then boarded a bus to get to the vaccination site in Edinburg, Texas.
Latin American citizens like the Gonzálezes must be financially secure to make the trip to the U.S. for a COVID-19 vaccine. Not only must they obtain a tourist visa, expenses like airplane tickets, hotel rooms and COVID-19 tests add up.
Many countries in Latin America have turned to countries like China and India to provide them with enough vaccines to cover their populations. According to the Americas Society (AS) and Council of the Americas (COA), Brazil has delivered the most vaccines to date with nearly 33 million. Paraguay has administered the least at nearly 88,000. Mexico comes right after Brazil at more than 13 million.
The AP also reports that 19 professional soccer players from Monterrey flew to Dallas to get the vaccine. In Peru, a presidential hopeful named Hernando De Soto said he traveled to the U.S. for the same reason. TV personalities like Juan José Origel from Mexico and Yanina Latorre from Argentina are receiving criticism for posting photos of themselves on social media getting the vaccine in the U.S.
“The pharmacies are saying that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have documents,” says Alejandra, a dentist in Monterrey, who didn’t want to give the AP her last name. “They are saying it because they are seeking the common good of society.”
Depending on what U.S. state you live in, officials may require proof of residency to get a vaccine. About half of the states, including Texas, Arizona and California, only require an official form of identification.