Aug 27, 2021 - Health

U.S. opens COVID-19 vaccination site for arriving Afghans

Picture of Afghan refugees at Dulles airport
Refugees board buses that will take them to a processing center after they arrive at Dulles International Airport after being evacuated from Kabul. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The U.S. has set up a coronavirus vaccination site for Afghans arriving at the Dulles International Airport in Virginia, a White House official told Axios.

State of play: Upon arrival, all Afghan evacuees are first tested for the virus and vaccines are then offered to those who test negative. The Federal Emergency Management Agency set up the vaccination site at the Dulles Expo center, and the vaccines are being administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House official said.

  • State Department translators are available to answer any vaccine-related questions.
  • The evacuees are being offered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • Those who test positive for COVID-19 are put in quarantine.
  • AP first reported the story.

Between the lines: All "humanitarian parolees" are required to get vaccinated for coronavirus if they do not have proof of prior vaccination.

  • They are also required to get vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and polio.

What they're saying: "This operation has been stood up in real time to ensure we are not wasting one minute and making sure everyone arriving in the United States is able to enter the country safely and not spread COVID-19," the White House official said.

The big picture: About 1.2 million vaccine doses had been administrated in Afghanistan, a country of 40 million, as of Aug. 20, per the World Health Organization.

  • UNICEF confirmed earlier this week that there was an 80% drop in vaccinations after the Taliban takeover of the country as people prioritized their "safety and security."

What to watch: A second mass vaccination site for arriving Afghans is expected to be launched soon at the Philadelphia International Airport.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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