WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of the Interior has applauded President Donald J. Trump and those working on Operation Warp Speed on the inclusion of U.S. territories and freely associated states in the United States’ schedule of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
“We applaud the President’s strong leadership and strategy for Operation Warp Speed in coordinating the development of a vaccine to be delivered rapidly while adhering to standards for safety and efficacy. We further applaud the White House team and our federal partners for their ongoing support to the U.S. territories and the freely associated states during this pandemic,” said Interior assistant secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech. “Our federal partners have long maintained relationships in the Pacific Islands and in the Caribbean, and during these unprecedented pandemic circumstances, these relationships have been strengthened.”
Both COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna recently obtained Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and are now being distributed nationwide under the management of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vaccine distribution throughout the United States has already begun, with all the insular areas prepared to implement their plans for inoculation as soon as the vaccines are received in the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau. The federal government has been working in close consultation with island leaders in these efforts.
Vaccination plans for each of the insular areas have prioritized health care and frontline workers in line with CDC guidance, with the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam receiving their first shipment of the COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last Dec. 14 (Dec. 15, Guam time). For the latest on the vaccine and distribution schedules, visit the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/.
The Dec. 11, 2020, statement from HHS and the Department of Defense on the FDA Emergency Use Authorization of a COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate can be viewed on the HHS website.
In March 2020, Interior applauded the announcement of $2.7 million that was provided to the insular areas through the Centers for Disease Control and Protection under the 2020 Supplemental Coronavirus Act. Since the announcement of the global pandemic, federal partners—including the Office of Insular Affairs—made funding and technical support available, holding teleconferences two to three times weekly, to track challenges and support the needs of the insular areas. (PR)