Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks today during her closing news confernece in Mexico City. Photo: Alfredo Estrella/AE/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris headed back to the U.S. after two days of high-level meetings in Guatemala and Mexico about corruption, human trafficking and migration, but one subject was only briefly touched upon: coronavirus vaccines.

Why it matters: Migrant apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border remain near 20-year highs. Harris is charged with trying to resolve the root causes for people leaving Central America, issues oftentimes exacerbated by COVID-19 in recent months.

  • Nonetheless, the administration has been careful to avoid the appearance of a vaccine quid pro quo that critics suggest is being used by China, Russia and other vaccine producers.
  • "It's important to mention here that when we're talking about vaccine distribution, it is something that has been done by the public health professionals, and it's not being done in exchange for some sort of political agreement," Mazin Alfaqih, special adviser to the vice president for the Northern Triangle, told reporters traveling with Harris.

A former Trump administration official who worked in the region told Axios it's a missed opportunity. Vaccines could be hugely effective in leveraging cooperation, he argued.

  • "If you're serious about stopping migration, they should give these countries vaccines to allow their people to go back to work," said Carlos Trujillo, who served as U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States.
  • In his conversations with Mexican and Central American officials, they most often complain about the need for vaccines, Trujillo said.

What they're saying: President Biden announced last week his administration would dole out 25 million vaccine doses to South and Central America, Asia, Africa and other countries before the end of the month.

  • Three quarters will be distributed through the United Nations-backed COVAX program, while the remainder will be shared through direct, bilateral arrangements.
  • During her trip, Harris mentioned 500,000 doses being provided to Guatemala.
  • Her spokesperson, Symone Sanders, also told reporters “vaccines are on the table for discussion" before the vice president met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, a pool report said.

Between the lines: While the administration has tried to avoid appearing to use vaccine distribution to coerce cooperation on migration, cause and effect can be hard to discern.

  • Shortly after the U.S. announced in March it would provide 2.5 million vaccine doses to Mexico, additional Mexican troops were sent to its southern border and the country to stem the flow of illegal migrants.
  • Mexican officials also announced Friday they would use 1 million vaccine doses provided by the U.S. for people at the country's northern border "with the aim of getting border transportation back to normal."

In some cases in which the U.S. has been slow to provide vaccines, China has stepped in.

  • The president of El Salvador publicly thanked China for supplying doses in April.
  • Last month, despite his country's ties to Taiwan, the president of Honduras said he would consider opening a trade office in China to get coronavirus shots, Reuters reported.
  • Nearly every country in Latin America has already ordered doses from Russia, China or both. Only now are doses from the United States starting to become available.

Go deeper

White House invites call with Nicki Minaj to discuss COVID vaccine

Rapper Nicki Minaj is seen leaving the Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 runway show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 12, 2020, in New York City. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

Nicki Minaj questioned the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine this week on Twitter, prompting an offer from the White House for a call with a doctor to discuss the safety of the vaccine, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Thursday.

Driving the news: Minaj on Monday wrote on Twitter that she would not attend the Met Gala because she had not received the COVID vaccine, which was a requirement to attend the event.

Sep 16, 2021 - Health

France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay

A nurse tends to a patient at a hospital in France. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty images.

France has suspended about 3,000 health workers without pay for failing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: The suspensions came after Wednesday's government-imposed deadline for the country's 2.7 million health workers to get at least one dose of the vaccine.

Sep 16, 2021 - Health

Italy to mandate COVID health pass for all workers

Italian minister of public administration Renato Brunetta. Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

The Italian government mandated on Thursday that all workers must show proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test or recent recovery from infection, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Thursday's announcement is one of the strictest pandemic measures in the world and makes Italy the first country in Europe to introduce such a sweeping mandate, per Reuters.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!