Governor seeks to include Guam in vaccine distribution; CNMI says it’s already included

This picture taken on May 23, 2020 shows a laboratory technician holding a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images via Fox News)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has asked the federal government to include Guam in its list of jurisdictions where a COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed.

According to the governor, she has held discussions with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who recently visited Guam, and who is the chair of the coronavirus task force that deals with the vaccine.

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“He informed me that there is a very strong possibility that there might be a vaccine by the end of this year. And my request was to make sure that we are on that distribution list. And he assured me that we will be on that list. So we have been assured by the highest person in the Department of Defense and one who is also very involved in the work on the vaccines. So I will hold him to his word, you will get that assurance from me. And we will make sure that we are on that list,” Leon Guerrero said.

She added that the COVID vaccine distribution on Guam will most likely go through the Department of Public Health and Social Services, as most vaccines do.

As for eligibility requirements on who would get the vaccine first, the governor said that is still under study and being discussed but an eligibility criteria will be developed.

Art San Agustin, the acting director of Public Health, added: “And should we get the vaccine, we have protocols in place and CDC will provide us the guidelines. Once we receive the guidelines, we will definitely have them available for public consumption.”

Earlier, CNMI officials said they have been contacted by the White House about the possibility of distributing COVID-19 vaccines all over the Commonwealth, according to Esther Muna, the CEO of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation and COVID-19 Task Force member.

According to Muna, the vaccine distribution program is part of Operation Warp Speed.

The federal program seeks to produce and deliver safe and effective vaccines as part of a broader national strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

The CNMI is looking at January 2021 as the target date for the mass distribution of the vaccine.

According to Muna, the CNMI government is planning to distribute the vaccines not just in Saipan but in Tinian and Rota as well.