Interior Applauds Inclusion of Insular Areas through Operation Warp Speed to Receive COVID-19 Vaccines
Territories and Freely Associated States Scheduled to Receive Vaccines
News Release from US DoI, Dec 15, 2020
WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech today applauded President Donald J. Trump and those working on Operation Warp Speed on the recent approval by the Food and Drug Administration of an Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are included in the United States’ schedule of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, whether Pfizer or Moderna, that will be managed through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The federal government has been working in close consultation with island leaders in these efforts.
“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 Assistant Secretary 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.”
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. Vaccination plans for each of the insular areas have prioritized healthcare 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 on Monday, December 14 (December 15, Guam time). For the latest on the vaccine and distribution schedules, please consult with local health care officials in the insular areas or visit the CDC website at: “2019-ncov/vaccines”.
The December 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. The CARES Act and other legislation provided additional important support again to the U.S. territories and the freely associated states, who hold a special relationship with the United States under respective Compacts of Free Association.
For more information about the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, visit the website at www.doi.gov/oia or follow on Twitter at @ASIIADomenech. Also follow OIA on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/InsularAffairs or watch related content on YouTube.
The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, the Office of Insular Affairs administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.