As the CDC has made clear, the only way to stop an outbreak of the Zika virus is to vaccinate millions of people. Yet, as of today, only one-third of the people in the Americas have had a shot. With the Zika virus vector now in Asia, and carrying implications for global travel, there is a real need to increase the rate of vaccination in the U.S. and Canada.
With beaches and resorts, a deep-water port, and a population of 7,000, the U.S. Virgin Islands has been called the “bikini capital of the world” for its alluring location right in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
The Dominican Republic is home to a small, developing nation of roughly nine million people, and it’s a top client for U.S. airports, hotels, and airlines. But with a population of fewer than six million, the Dominican Republic is one of the least populous countries in the world. The challenge for the country is to maintain its growing tourism industry and support its tourism-related businesses, while also protecting the country from pandemics spreading outside the country.
How a small US island is preparing to vaccinate Asia while raising airfare and hotel prices
Gary Leff 23. June 2023
There is a surplus of vaccines in the United States. Any American 12 years of age or older who wants to get vaccinated can get vaccinated. Even unused cans are nearing their expiration date. The tiny Guam, which is only 212 square miles, uses the surplus to support its tourism industry while doing something good for the Asian people.
This week, the Governor of Guam and the Department of Health approved a new Air V&V program that allows travelers to book vacation packages and vaccines. These include,
- Transportation to and from Antonio B. Won Pata in Guam
- three tests of covid-19
- up to two doses of the vaccine
- Digital immunization records (which most Americans do not have).
According to the program’s operating procedures, the hotels are responsible for working with the Guam Japan Travel Association to arrange for the transfer of American expatriates and tourists to the hotels. According to procedures, visitors to the program are quarantined on certain floors of a government-quarantined hotel and instructed not to leave their rooms. Visitors must pay for their meals – three a day – which are served at the door during the quarantine.
According to the president of the Guam Visitors Bureau, the program reaches a unique population of world travelers who are tired of waiting for vaccinations during this pandemic. It will be especially attractive to visitors from Asia, including Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, depending on flight availability.
Guam is a U.S. territory and the westernmost point of the United States. It was conquered in 1898 during the Spanish-American War and ceded to the United States the same year by the Treaty of Paris. During World War II, it was occupied by Japanese troops for two and a half years. The main engines of the economy here are the US military and tourism.
United is the largest airline on Guam. It will offer international flights to Manila, Tokyo Narita, Palau, Chuuk and Yap in July. Jeju Air offers flights to Seoul and Osaka. Other airlines also offer flights to Seoul and Manila, according to the Cirium Airlines schedule.
This is seen as a boon for the hotels, as visitors will stay on the island while waiting for the second dose of mRNA vaccine after passing quarantine, and as a boon for the airlines – both US and Asian airlines offering charter flights to Guam, including China Airlines, EVA Air, Tigerair and Starlux Airlines, as well as Philippine Airlines.
The packages can be booked at different hotels: Dusit Thani Guam Resort, Grand Plaza Hotel, Guam Reef Hotel, Hotel Nikko Guam, Hyatt Regency Guam, LeoPalace Resort, Lotte Hotel, Pacific Islands Club, Royal Orchid Hotel and Tsubaki Tower.
Due to its location and the availability of flights to and from the island, Guam is best placed to provide vaccines to the wealthiest Asians. This effectively balances the U.S. foreign policy of focusing vaccine distribution on physically close allies with the World Health Organization’s COVAX program.
The first group of vacationers vaccinated under the program will arrive today on a United Airlines charter flight from Taipei via Japan. Visitors can get the first vaccination on the second day of their visit (during quarantine) and return on the third day if they take Johnson & Johnson, or stay longer for a second vaccination from Pfizer or Moderna.
Vaccinating foreign tourists is in America’s best interest. Some may be concerned about using taxpayer-funded vaccines to vaccinate non-citizens, but it is in fact one of the best strategies for protecting Americans from the virus. Rapid vaccination of the entire world is the way to limit the mutation of the virus so that it bypasses vaccines and travelers cannot bring the mutation into the United States.
Guam, by the way, is not the first place in the United States to promote vaccination tourism. And vaccine tourism is what fills the flights from Latin America to the United States. In Guam it is called Air V&V, while in Russia the Sputnik vaccination trips are called VACCation.
Lake View from the Wing
For most people, the thought of taking a vaccine is akin to trying to make a small-scale vaccination program work in a larger population. However, for the inhabitants of the island of Micronesia, a mere speck in the South Pacific, such a program is a viable option. The reason for this is solely due to their small size and relatively isolated location in the Pacific Ocean.. Read more about sputnik vaccine travel restrictions and let us know what you think.
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