While most countries in the world are keen to get travel and tourism off the ground again, families are being reunited and digital nomads are back on the move after an unspeakably isolating and depressing two years I feel that there’s one thing that governments, tourism boards and health insurance companies are completely overlooking: vaccinating non-residents in their country.
Yes, every single one of the travellers I’ve met this year are vaccinated, it’s the only way to get in and out easily and is required in some regions. But these vaccines have expiry dates and it’s not always easy to pop back home to the other side of the world for a vaccine. Sometimes it’s just impossible. The option to “just stay in your own country” is the most stupid advice I’ve ever been offered as a solution. Some of us are required to travel for work, some are spending time with loved ones after years apart, some of us, like myself, are waiting for our country of residence to reopen.
So there has to be a way for people to get a vaccine all over the world. Of course, I don’t speak of countries struggling to vaccinate their own people. Visiting such places puts residents and the traveller at risk, I have not been anywhere a vaccine shortage.
No, shortages are not the issue. I’ve been to seven different countries this year, only one had a distribution issue, that was my home country of Australia. Not that there was a lack of doses at that time, just a slow roll-out —so that argument is a non-starter. There are enough idiots refusing inoculation for there to be a surplus of vaccines for people who actually want it. In order for me to be able to work and take care of my family in 2021, both of which required me to travel out of my own country, I had to spend half of the year without work (or benefits) at my parents home in Australia waiting for a vaccine to become available, my next choice was to try my luck in Serbia or Barbados. neither of which are an option anymore. Fortunately a local doctor thought it was dangerous to have to travel to the other side of the world to get a vaccine and organised for me to have one in Australia after a six month wait.
And now, finally vaccinated, I was free to live my life, but after four months the news came: you’ll need a third shot, quick sticks.
What to do? Surely it seems unreasonable to travel 36 hours to get a vaccine and have to wait until an appointment becomes available, perhaps another extended, unpaid holiday was on the cards. We have travel insurance but they can’t help with vaccination at this stage. Individuals are responsible for managing my own health but after trying in Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and Kyrgyzstan it seems that there is no way for me to even buy a vaccine.
It’s not like I’m the only one, I’ve met dozens whose vaccines have expired and who are just waiting until they are able to get another dose. It doesn’t seem very safe to me. If these countries allow travellers to stay for 3-12 months to reap the benefits of their foreign currency then they jolly well ought to provide them with access to a vaccine. Free, paid, on a waiting list, it doesn’t matter. We will take it. These foreigners are spending time within their jurisdiction and if you don’t want them filling up hospital beds and spreading Coronavirus within the local population then hand over the vaccine, don’t make it difficult. Don’t refuse us that which is in adequate supply. Don’t tell us we have to apply with the city council and wait 30 days to go on a waiting list for 30 days because we are foreigners. If non-residents have the option of going to a private clinic and paying for a vaccination they will do it, or at least then they don’t have an excuse to be unvaccinated and at large in the community.
To every “open” country in the world as of this day: Make jabs available for everyone, or don’t let people enter your country for more than two weeks and forego the tourist dollars. That’s the choice you have to make.