Tourists from around the world get COVID vaccine at SFO

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — While the United States is still struggling to convince many Americans to get their COVID-19 vaccine, tourists from around the world are flying into SFO to get their shots right inside the airport.

Travellers roll up their sleeves to get the one shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine outside the medical clinic at SFO’s International Terminal.

A 30-year-old woman from Brazil who flew to SFO to attend U.C. Berkeley Grad School in the fall called it a dream come true, because she was having a hard time getting her shot back home.

“There are delays in the press and everything so I was just joking with my friends like I’ll be vaccinated when I get there and that’s what’s happening,” Amanda Rocha said. “I’m just feeling blessed.”

The SFO spokesperson says since they’ve started this clinic in mid May, they’ve given over 1,000 shots to foreign visitors from 58 countries around the world, in what’s being called vaccine tourism.

The most coming from Taiwan, followed by Mexico.

“This is a win-win on a variety of levels. Number one, it ensures that vaccine doses don’t go to waste and puts them in the hands of people that really want them, people that maybe can’t access them in their home country,” SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel said. “The other thing that it does is it helps stimulate tourism and spending in our region and those people are spending time, spending money in our region, but they’re also protected by the vaccine so it’s really a good thing all around.”

Domestic travellers have been taking advantage of the airport vaccine clinic. One young Texan said got her shot while visiting her boyfriend.

“I kind of live in the middle of nowhere in Texas, like it’s very rural, and so you being in a major hub it was just easier.”

The vaccines are free and open to anyone who wants them by appointment, which can be made on SFO’s website.

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