OTTAWA -- As some companies are offering luxury overseas vacations for the ultra rich to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, at least one expert in the fields of luxury travel and medicine has serious ethical concerns about these trips.

Last week, Forbes Magazine reported that a private luxury concierge company known as Knightsbridge Circle was offering some of the richest people in the world a luxury vacation to either Dubai or India to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The US$55,000 package, only available to Knightsbridge Circle members, includes a private flight to Dubai or India, where the customer receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a private facility and 30 nights’ accommodation while they wait for their second dose.

Back in December, Dubai began offering the Chinese-based Sinopharm vaccine to anyone who wants it in the economic hub city. They’ve also since approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use.

In a recent phone interview, Dr. Nabeel Alateeqi, a medical doctor and president of Toronto-based The Luxury Travel Agency, told that he has not been approached to arrange such a trip and would decline to do so if he was.

“My opinion about this topic is ethically, I don't find it's right, especially when it comes to a pandemic like this,” he said. “You are taking this vaccine from someone who really needs help.”

Alateeqi said given how in-demand and in short supply vaccines have been, that priority needs to remain with those with pre-existing conditions and advanced age, rather than those with a bigger wallet.

“We're not talking about, for example, you need a colonoscopy and you are basically waiting for the government hospitals where they give you appointments … and (instead) someone goes to a private clinic and he had his colonoscopy tomorrow,” he said.

“Right now we running are in a pandemic. It's completely different.”

In a statement to Forbes, Knightsbridge Circle founder Stuart McNeill said his company has accounted for the ethical issues surrounding the offering, as Dubai is already offering the vaccine for free to any locals who want it and the vacation is not available to any of its members below the age of 65.

Given his medical background, Alateeqi also had concerns about how these private clinics might manage the vaccine, given Pfizer’s version must be stored at around minus 70 degrees Celsius.

He added that these trips also raise issues of how private foreign vaccines will be recognized in other countries, given so few countries are offering them privately.

“My family were telling me that when they got a vaccine in Kuwait, they gave them kind of like a passport with stamps from the government that they received the vaccine,” he said. “Now, if you go to this private clinic in Dubai, do you think they would do the same or not? And if they do the same, in the future, would this be recognized?”

Vaccine tourism has been a controversial issue in Florida as well, where the state government initially offered vaccines to anyone within the specific priority brackets, regardless of where they are from, meaning Canadian snowbirds could head south for the vaccine before it would be available in Canada.

The Florida government has since rescinded that rule and now requires anyone with an out-of-state ID to provide proof or residency or semi-permanent residency, such as a utility bill, property tax receipt or lease agreement.

Alateeqi is not fond of Canadian snowbirds receiving the vaccine in Florida, either.

“I think you should be like everybody else and follow the rules and regulations according to your age, according to your disease, if you have anything,” he said.