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‘Vaccine vacations’: How some are shelling out big bucks for vacation packages promising COVID-19 vaccinations

PITTSBURGH — International travel is off the table for most Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. But those with enough money are still jet setting abroad not only for pleasure, but now to get the COVID-19 vaccine too.

NYU professor Arthur Caplan said it is happening all over the world — people who can afford the big-budget price tag are booking vaccine vacations to far off places.

“I know that people who have gone to Saudi Arabia, UAE, now you have to be pretty rich and have a lot of free time to do it, but I know people have done it,” Caplan said.

One website out of India called zenithholidays.com has a section for vaccination tourism.

Our Orlando sister-station, WFTV, discovered after you enter your information and the time you wish to travel, you receive an email with information on the trips available.

You can get a four-day stay along with a vaccination for about $2,000, but the company warns that it is still awaiting approval and says it will keep you updated.

Another package to the UK offers even more. There are options for a six-day trip to London or a 22-day stay in the UK.

The flyer said the trips include airfare; breakfast and sightseeing; and a COVID-19 safety kit, but that the package price availability of vaccinations aren’t guaranteed.

There are also reports of a private club out of the UK that will also book vaccine vacations for their members for $25,000.

Caplan said these kinds of offers could be fake, so he cautions buyers to do their research.

“Some of those are already scams; there is not going to be an appointment and you are not going anywhere,” he said.

Some travel agents said they’ve seen an increase of the number of people booking trips to the U.S. to receive the vaccine.

Toronto-based travel agent Martin Firestone said he gets hundreds of calls from people asking him to book them a trip to the U.S. to receive the vaccination.

“They basically are making arrangements now and purchasing travel insurance and heading south to get the vaccine,” Firestone said, “and that is the sole motivator for them heading down south at this point.”

Pennsylvania currently does not have a residency requirement to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but do you need to meet other eligibility requirements like occupation, age, or underlying health condition.