June 30, 2021

Shaheen, Hassan Join Letter Urging Blinken to Help Americans Living Abroad Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) in a letter calling on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to support COVID-19 vaccination efforts for the nine million Americans living abroad. 

  

The Senators urged the administration to donate supplemental doses to U.S. embassies and consulates in coordination with the Department of Defense. They asked to prioritize the vaccination of Americans living in countries where they are considered ineligible or in those countries that are not distributing vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization.  

  

“While the country is quickly approaching its target of vaccinating 70 percent of adults based in the U.S., vaccination rates around the world vary significantly. Around 85 percent of shots administered so far have been in high- and upper-middle-income countries, while only 0.3 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries. While Americans abroad are eligible to receive vaccines in some countries, in others, Americans are ineligible as non-citizens,” the Senators wrote

  

The Senators continued, “Should Americans living abroad wish to travel to the U.S. to receive the vaccine, the financial burden of travel as well as lengthy quarantine requirements upon return to their host country may be prohibitive. As a result of these complicating factors, millions of Americans abroad worry they may not have access to a vaccine for months or even years.” 

  

“The administration has made remarkable progress in vaccinating Americans at home and U.S. officials overseas. As the attention shifts to global vaccination efforts, we urge you to explore all viable options to support vaccination of the millions of Americans living abroad,” the Senators concluded

  

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bob Casey (D-PA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) also signed the letter to Secretary Blinken. 

  

The full text of the letter is available here and below: 

  

Dear Secretary Blinken, 

  

We commend the administration’s ongoing efforts to tackle the COVID-19 global pandemic in coordination with our partners and allies. In particular, the United States is leading the world by announcing the donation of more than 500 million vaccines overseas. In addition to this important effort, we urge you to take concrete steps toward vaccinating the nine million Americans living abroad. 

  

While the country is quickly approaching its target of vaccinating 70 percent of adults based in the U.S., vaccination rates around the world vary significantly. Around 85 percent of shots administered so far have been in high- and upper-middle-income countries, while only 0.3 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries. While Americans abroad are eligible to receive vaccines in some countries, in others, Americans are ineligible as non-citizens. Should Americans living abroad wish to travel to the U.S. to receive the vaccine, the financial burden of travel as well as lengthy quarantine requirements upon return to their host country may be prohibitive. As a result of these complicating factors, millions of Americans abroad worry they may not have access to a vaccine for months or even years. 

  

We welcome the administration’s sharing of 500 million vaccines with 92 low- and lower middle-income countries. In addition, we urge you to donate supplemental doses to U.S embassies and consulates to support vaccinating American citizens living in those countries as well. To optimize distribution of those additional doses, we urge you to prioritize countries where Americans are deemed ineligible or low priority in national vaccination deployment plans as well as countries that presently are not distributing a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-authorized vaccine or vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization. 

  

The State Department’s success in vaccinating tens of thousands of Foreign Service personnel and their families was a heroic undertaking by medical units at posts around the world. The Defense Department has also succeeded in administering more than one million doses across more than 80 international facilities around the world. In recognition of the challenge of vaccinating up to nine million private citizens overseas, we urge you to explore coordination with the Defense Department to maximize U.S. government capacity. 

  

The administration has made remarkable progress in vaccinating Americans at home and U.S. officials overseas. As the attention shifts to global vaccination efforts, we urge you to explore all viable options to support vaccination of the millions of Americans living abroad. 

  

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