The Guam Visitors Bureau has said it wants to seek authorization to use the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Guam even though it still hasn’t been approved by the FDA.
GVB said it wants to include the Astra Zeneca vaccine as part of its “vaccination destination” concept.
Under the concept, travelers would visit Guam with the primary aim of getting vaccinated and then enjoy the island’s tourism offerings during their stay.
GVB president Carl Gutierrez said that Korean airline officials asked whether GovGuam would recognize the AstraZeneca vaccine.
They said the vaccine is widely used in Korea and accounts for about 60 percent of vaccinations.
Gutierrez said that officials from Korean air carrier Jeju Air assured him that travel between Korea and Guam should normalize once more people become vaccinated.
Gutierrez also said that he was informed that Jeju Air plans to offer weekly service between Guam and the Korean city of Incheon starting in July or August.
Physicians Advisory Group chairperson Dr. Hoa Nguyen told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo that the AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t authorized by the FDA because of safety concerns.
And there isn’t a concern over the vaccine’s effectiveness.
“Remember they have the same efficacy as the J and J. No difference. But they have more side effects from the blood clots, so that’s why I think they take a long time to get reviewed by the FDA. But they do have the application already into FDA, so I don’t see any problem with AZ, with people who come in to Guam,” Dr. Nguyen said.
Even though the AstraZeneca vaccine hasn’t been approved for use in the United States, Dr. Nguyen said that the U.S. has actually donated the vaccine to other countries.
ABC News reported this month that the U.S. has plans to donate up to 80 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries and has already donated 4 million doses to Canada and Mexico.
So far, however, the main target of the vaccination destination program which GVB is also calling “Air VnV” is still American expatriates.
Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said she approves of the concept but won’t give her blessing to the program until GVB has presented a detailed plan to her.
She also said that she wants to make sure that Guam residents remain the top priority when it comes to the availability of vaccines.
Dr. Nguyen, who is also a physician at American Medical Center, said that AMC has received several inquiries into the vaccine tourism program.
“We have a lot of inquiries through our AMC website from the expats as well as the tour group that wanted to come to Guam to get vaccinated. There have been a lot of inquiries. There are 50 or 60 of them already…including some tour groups who want to put some packages together. I think it’s an excellent idea that GVB has. They just need to put a system together, a plan together, and present it to the governor. I think that they have located 1,500 doses of Pfizer for GVB to use for the expats. The sooner they roll it out the better because there’ve been a lot of inquiries from expats in Japan,” Dr. Nguyen said.