Jun 24, 2021 - Health

Exclusive: Bipartisan group of senators urges Blinken to vaccinate Americans abroad

Tony Blinken

Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) are leading an effort urging the Biden administration to coordinate with the Defense Department to donate supplemental COVID-19 vaccine doses to U.S. embassies and consulates.

Why it matters: Millions of Americans living in countries where they are not considered eligible for the vaccine or those living in places where vaccines are not being authorized by the FDA or the World Health Organization may have to wait for months or even years to receive a vaccine.

Driving the news: Murphy and Moran, along with a group of 24 bipartisan senators, wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken Thursday outlining their request.

  • They urge Blinken to coordinate with the Defense Department to administer vaccines to the nine million Americans living abroad.

Of note: While the State Department has vaccinated tens of thousands of foreign service personnel, along with their families, the Defense Department administered more than 1 million doses across more than 80 international facilities globally.

The big picture: The U.S. is closer each day to approaching President Biden’s target goal of vaccinating 70% of adults in the nation.

  • But the vaccination rate abroad is starkly different depending on the location.
  • The senators underscore in their letter that 85% of shots administered so far have been in high- and upper-middle-income countries, while only 0.3% of doses have been administered in low-income countries.
  • They make the point that while Americans living abroad might wish to travel to the U.S. to be vaccinated, they may have to worry about the financial burden of travel, in addition to quarantine requirements when they return to their host country.
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