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North Miami Beach Apologizes After Mayor’s Vaccine Invite Ripples Across Latin America

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Mayor Anthony DeFillipo had to walk back a statement that invited international tourists to his city to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

By the time the city and mayor walked back the "misinterpreted" statement, it had already reached news sites and social media platforms at home and abroad.

North Miami Beach Mayor Anthony DeFillipo caused a stir that shot across Latin America this weekend after he said in an interview Friday that international tourists could come to his city to get the COVID-19 vaccine, adding that “thousands and thousands” had already done so.

State rules restrict the vaccines to Florida residents.

On Monday, he tried to walk back his words, and the city apologized in a statement for “any confusion” the mayor had caused. But by that point, the information had already reached major news sites and WhatsApp chats at home and abroad.

“NORTH MIAMI BEACH OFFERS FREE VACCINES TO INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS TRAVELING TO SOUTH FLORIDA,” read a Facebook post Sunday from the Argentinian news site Infobae. As of Monday afternoon, the post had over 10,000 “likes” and 2,000 shares.

On Friday, during a Facebook live stream with two Colombian interviewers, DeFillipo said in Spanish that anyone with a passport and a local address could get vaccinated in North Miami Beach. DeFillipo told the Miami Herald that his statement was "misinterpreted."

According to the state Department of Health, to receive a vaccine residents must show proof of residency such as a driver's license or ID card. Otherwise, they must show two items proving residency such as utility bill or bank statement.

Read more of this article from our news partner at The Miami Herald.

— By Aaron Leibowitz and Jimena Tavel / The Miami Herald

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