Vaccine Tourism USA – Get vaccinated in New York City now

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The picture of COVID-19 and the state of vaccination in the US changed dramatically. Not long ago it was very bleak for sure, and New York City was constantly in the news as one of the metropoles the relentless virus hit hardest. Now it seems the US is the go-to place to get vaccinated for internationals. Is that true and what are the procedures to get vaccinated in the US as a foreigner?

New York City Vaccine Foreigners Tourism
If your are in need of a COVID-19 vaccine like Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson, then New York City might be the right place to go Image: King of Hearts / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

First a word of caution, although it seems that it is not illegal to get vaccinated in the USA as a foreigner, as opposed to other countries like for example the UK or Germany as of now, there is still a lot to consider. The official political statements say that there is no federal restriction to who shall get COVID vaccines, in fact it says the more people, regardless of nationality of immigration status, are vaccinated, the better it is for all, but there are a lot of restrictions at state, municipality and vaccine providers levels.

Therefore, you should plan your trip very well, because vaccine tourism sounds a lot more worry free than it actually is. We are still dealing with a deadly virus, which can even be caught at the travel to a vaccination site. To combine a sightseeing trip with a bit of medical tourism is a story of pre-COVID times, but will be as easy again in post-COVID times, hopefully .

Having said that, let us dive into the bright details of the vaccination state and policies of New York City for non-residents today.

Mayor of New York City welcomes tourists to get vaccinated

What could be a more fitting place for vaccine tourism then iconic New York City. The NYC mayor Bill de Blasio could not be clearer, New York City loves and actually needs its foreign tourists. The number of overseas visitors was increasing on a year-to-year basis until the COVID pandemic when it plunged badly. That is why allowing foreigners to get vaccinated while spending a lot of money to enjoy their trip to New York is a very good move to boost the tourism economy which plays a big part in the city.

Mayor of NYC Tourists Vaccination COVID-19
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomes foreign tourists to get vaccinated against COVID-19 while enjoy their trip to the Big Apple // Image: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

[…] get the tourists back to New York City. This summer, you’re going to see tourism come alive again in New York City, you’re going to see a lot of jobs come back because of it. We want to go the extra mile, make it easy for tourists. If they’re here, get vaccinated while you’re here. It makes sense to put mobile vaccination sites where the tourists are. That is good for all of us that they get vaccinated. It’s good for them. It’s another reason to be here and know you’re going to be taken care of. So, we’re going to be setting up these mobile vaccination sites where tourists go. We’ll be using the J & J vaccine. We’ll be in Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Central Park, the High Line, a variety of locations. And we’re going to be working with the State of New York. We need the State to alter the rule that will allow us to provide vaccination to folks from out of town. But we think this is a positive message to tourists – come here, it’s safe, it’s a great place to be, and we’re going to take care of you. We’re going to make sure you get vaccinated while you’re here with us. So, this is going to start as soon as we get that approval. We’re ready to go this weekend. We want to welcome more and more people into the vaccination effort.

Source: Mayor de Blasio Holds Media Availability (May 6, 2021)

The vision of the NYC mayor is now realizing in plain view, with walk-up vaccination sites as its strongest symbols. Located at popular commuter places like Grand Central Station they draw fascinated comments from residents who get vaccinated at their way to work, as well as from foreigner who combine a sight seeing trip with the long sought-after vaccine:

The commuter hubs are open to out-of-towners as well as residents […] Montse Mateos, 21, got vaccinated Wednesday while on vacation in New York with her brother. They’re from Puebla, Mexico, where their age group is not yet eligible. The pair saw an ad for the subway vaccine sites while catching the train at Penn Station. “It’s incredible. Here in the U.S.A., the government begs people to get the vaccine and also gives you free tickets,” said Mateos. “In Mexico, everybody is fighting for the vaccines. Like, ‘Please give me one.’ The contrast is really remarkable.

Source: Report about walk-up vaccination sites like Grand Central Station by the Gothamist

More information about vaccination in New York City: