Alaska has announced it will be offering Covid-19 vaccines free of charge to all arriving tourists beginning June 1. This includes all international travelers.
Starting on June 1, any tourist traveling to Alaska will be offered a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The free vaccines will be available at the Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau or Ketchikan airports.
The move comes as Alaska’s hopes to revitalize its tourism after being devastated by the pandemic. The campaign is part a multimillion-dollar tourism promotion that is being funded by federal stimulus income.
Alaska Governor, Mike Dunleavy made the announcement from his twitter account.
“I’m announcing today that any tourist coming into Alaska this summer at our major airports will be able to get a Covid Vaccine free of charge.”
While Alaska is not the first state to offer Covid-19 vaccines to non-residents, they are the first state that has officially advertised it as an incentive to boost tourism.
Alaska will now join at least 20 other states that have been very open that they do not require citizenship or residency for a vaccine. Alaska is not lacking vaccines, said Heidi Hedberg, the state’s director of public health.
Health officials will begin a trial test of the program for five days at the end of April to gauge the amount of interest. The test will be held at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Alaska will not be offering the one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine for tourists which could have made the promotion a bigger lure for international tourism.
See the complete list of U.S. States that do not require residency and are offering the J & J vaccine for tourists.
Alaska was the first state to open vaccine eligibility to adults 16 or older living or working in the state back on March 9. 32% of the population in Alaska is now fully vaccinated.
Vaccine Tourism Is Surging
A new age of vaccine tourism has started. Travelers from Mexico, Central America and South America are all researching about Covid-19 vaccinations in the U.S. due to slow rollouts in their home country. Tens of thousands of foreigners have already traveled to the U.S. to be vaccinated.
While not all Americans support the idea of vaccine tourism, some U.S. states and businesses are desperate for the tourism dollars.
Top health regulators in the U.S. have resumed the use of the one shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine. This gives international travelers the opportunity to travel to the United States, receive the one dose and return home fully vaccinated. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine require a second dose 3-4 weeks later.
Health authorities have lifted the 10 day pause on the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. The use of the J & J vaccine was originally paused due to a rare occurrence of Blood clots (6 people out of 6 million). Now that the public has been informed and a warning has been added to the label, the vaccine is being distributed once again.
Entering the U.S. To Receive a Vaccine Remains A Grey Area
Some travelers have reported being turned away by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for stating their reason for entering the country was to receive a vaccine. Many foreigners including wealthy Mexicans are using a well known loophole that allows them to travel to the U.S. with their primary purpose of travel as tourism. Once entering the country as a tourist, nothing prevents them from getting a vaccine in states that do not require residency.
The CDC has stated “U.S. citizenship is not a requirement for vaccination, and the goal was to “ensure that everyone can receive vaccines without barriers.” It added that each state has the ability to limit their own supply to residents only.
With Alaska being the first state to officially offer all tourists the vaccine, it may not be long before other U.S. states that hungry for tourism spending do the same.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com