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Is the COVID Vaccine Tourism Scam? Things to Know before you Consider a Vaccine Tourism

COVID-19 Vaccine

Is the COVID Vaccine Tourism Scam? Things to Know before you Consider a Vaccine Tourism

The outbreak of global pandemic COVID-19 has led many companies to cash-in by promoting several personalized offerings. For example, fashion companies started marketing bespoke face masks, food companies came up with immunity-boosting items, and of course, there is a wide range of disinfectants for furniture, accessories, electronic goods, and even food items

Such kind of branding ranges from useful to harmless to pointless. A certain section of the medical tourism industry has taken this in-your-face marketing far too stretched. A new term has emerged at the end of 2020, which is vaccine tourism. Some travel companies have started promoting packages with opportunistic visits to healthcare centers abroad to get vaccine shots along with accommodations, flights, and even breakfast on the platter.

Vaccine Tourism- Legit or Scam

The demand for getting the vaccine early has created opportunities for immoral agencies across the globe. According to a security official from New York City-based Pfizer facility, some criminals are trying to rob consumers with false promises regarding the COVID vaccine.

Fraudsters are acting as agents and purporting that they can provide early vaccines. Some lawbreakers are busy promoting “vaccine tourism” with attractive packages. There some fake online advertisements being published where certain agencies are trying to lure consumers by enticing them to get COVID vaccines without long queues and hassles. In some cases, fake agents and robocalls are being spread that promise consumers to avail COVID vaccine for around $79.99.

Like individual consumers, care facilities have also become a focal point for such agencies. Pfizer sensed such illegal activities much before the FDA authorized Pfizer to use the vaccine for emergencies. The company, in a statement, informed that they have started to clean anything related to vaccine-related scams.

Scammers in the UK are also trying to gain a lot from the opportunity. Despite the issuance of the state-owned National Health Service (NHS), where it promised to deliver vaccines for free, some scammers are tricking consumers into spending money for COVID vaccines. According to the City of London Police, a 92-year-old victim paid 160 pounds for a fake vaccine. The women described the vaccine as a “dart-like substance”.    

Increasing Demand for Vaccines 

Despite being the home of merely 8 percent of the world’s total population, Latin America ranked fifth in the index of global COVID infections. The continent accounts for more than 30% of the total number of deaths due to the pandemic so far.

While other developing nations are gearing up to implement vaccination programs for the masses, Latin American nations are struggling to get sufficient access to doses of COVID vaccines. Logistical difficulties are also a major hurdle for Latin American nations to distribute the vaccines to all parts.

The Pfizer vaccine is probably the one to be used for mass campaigns across the world once approved by the World Health Organization. But the initiative may have to face hurdles like transport and storage hurdles in Latin American countries. It seems that delivering vaccines and medical kits across jungle and mountainous regions is going to be a challenging task for authorities.

The increasing demand for COVID vaccines encouraged scammers to rob consumers with false promises. Latin America is considered to be the hotspot for the “vaccine tourism” scammers, where they used to lure individuals with lucrative offers. Florida, for example, is one of the states to roll out the vaccination program across the state and many individuals from Latin American nations traveled to Florida to get the shot as early as possible. 

However, the experts are not giving this trend a green signal as they worry about the ethics and quality of such healthcare, and if the government will approve such practices. The state health department always advises people to determine if they are eligible for the current vaccination program and follow updates on availability and accessibility. 

Beating all the odds, South American nations like Argentina and Chile are preparing for mass vaccination programs, and the initiative is expected to benefit millions of people living in urban, suburban, and remote areas.

Is Vaccine Tourism Morally Acceptable?

The approval of various vaccines around the world is certainly great news after millions of cases, loss of lives, jobs, and business. With new strains spreading, it would be too early to say that the pandemic is over. However, people are adapting to the new normal and they don’t want another year of uncertainly and loss of opportunities. They want to make the most of 2021 and with borders opening, more intensive traveling is expected. 

In such a situation, vaccines are changing the travel sentiment. There is a rush to return to normal and with the highly sought-after vaccines making way to the private market, a dubious version of medical travel is developing in many countries. This morally vague trend can create a secondary market for vaccines for wealthy visitors from abroad who could shell extra money to pay for vaccination if not eligible to get under their local government’s program and this will lead to detriment of their people.

Developing Countries can Become Vaccine Tourism Hub

Many experts are worrying that in developing countries, where demand for COVID vaccine is quite high, some private providers are tempted to create supply through illegal channels. According to a leading institute where the vaccine is being manufactured, they aim to ensure fair access to lower-income nations; however, they also expect to sell millions of doses to private facilities.

In Britain, there are measures against taking vaccines through private providers by queue jumping. Unfortunately, it is not the same globally. As the vast majority of vaccines are being made in developing nations, which are hit hard economically by pandemic, it is tempting to auction off millions of vaccine doses to the highest bidder. Besides, such vaccine tourism can even boost the tourism sector of those countries, which is deeply affected by the pandemic. This is definitely a question of ethical distribution over economic gains.

Is Vaccine Tourism Possible- Final Verdict

At present, No! Currently, pharmaceutical companies are in a rush to manufacture and supply millions of doses across the globe. In such a scenario, traveling to get vaccinated does not seem a distant possibility. Any private player in the travel or medical tourism industry that claims such a vaccine program is high on risk. There is no validation to assure the quality of vaccines and healthcare. Being one of the leading global medical tourism marketplaces, PlacidWay urges people not to fall prey to such scams and look out for government plans on vaccine distribution.

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by: PlacidWay

2021-01-18 / Updated on: 2021-02-28

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