'We won the lottery': Ottawa couple has no regrets about getting vaccines in Florida

An Ottawa couple who lives in Florida half the year says they have no regrets about getting vaccinated against COVID-19 there — although they are not mentioning it to their American neighbours.

“We feel like we won the lottery. I think we are really, really fortunate,” said the man. “I am afraid if I was back in Ottawa, I would be lucky to get it in May.” The couple asked not to be named because they are worried about possible pushback from others in Florida who have not yet been vaccinated amid scarce supply.

“We are being quiet about it,” said the man. “Gee whiz, if I am in Canada and some Americans got in front of me I would be a little upset, even if they owned a cottage. I understand the blowback.”

But he said he and his wife, who are seniors, own property and pay taxes in the Sarasota area, are eligible to be vaccinated. Florida has begun cracking down on vaccine “tourists” and requires proof of residency to get the vaccine.

Still, the man said they are not being public about the fact they have had a first dose of the Moderna vaccine for fear of resentment.

“We are not telling anybody down here. Not even our best friends.”

There has been criticism on both sides of the border against Canadians who travel south and get vaccinated there. But the man said he is in his 70s, has health complications and is not impressed by the speed of the vaccine rollout in Ontario.

Getting slots to receive their first dose of vaccine was like scoring a highly coveted concert ticket, the man said. Within an hour, 50,000 people applied online for 3,000 vaccination spaces. He and his wife were fortunate to be among those to get one of the spots.

“We were able to get to the front of the line because our son is a whiz bang on the computer. He had everything done in 60 seconds.”

The man said he was concerned about flying to Florida earlier this month, but feels as safe in that community as they did in Ottawa.

“We find most people are wearing a mask and being good about it.”

As to the public health message not to travel and to stay home, he noted a number of high profile politicians and others have travelled south.

“There are a lot of Canadians who own property in Florida. We weren’t worried about coming down to Florida.”

The couple got vaccinated just 10 days after arriving.

“I have medical conditions and I was really happy to get this vaccine.” They are due to get their second dose in three weeks.

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