Canadian snowbirds flock to vaccinate in Florida as rollouts lag north of the border

Needle Arm

OTTAWA — Canadian snowbirds in Florida are rushing to get inoculated down south as provincial vaccine rollouts lag north of the border.

While many of the roughly one million Canadians who flock to sunnier climes each winter have stayed home this year, those who made the migration are signing up for shots and avoiding the wait facing people back home.

More than 329,000 people in Florida have already received their first doses, compared to fewer than 206,000 doses administered across Canada as of Thursday.

Perry Cohen, a 74-year-old Torontonian who spends roughly half the year in Florida, says he was among the first to receive a shot at his retirement community in Deerfield Beach, north of Miami.

Hotel operator Martin Clavet-Bédard, who caters largely to Quebecers in southern Florida, says he’s received calls from Canadians eager to hop south solely to jump the provincial vaccination queue.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is convening a virtual First Ministers meeting today, with speeding up COVID-19 vaccinations high on the agenda.