Vaccine tourism may include non-US citizens as vaccines may soon be sold on Guam

Tourists at the Guam airport. (PNC file photo)

The Guam Visitors Bureau’s vaccine tourism plan, dubbed “Air V&V” by GVB President Carl Gutierrez (for “vaccination and vacation”), may soon also include non-US citizens as the manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines have indicated that they are willing to provide Guam with commercial quantities of their vaccines for sale.

Under GVB’s original plan, Guam will be marketed as a “vaccination destination” for American expatriates living and working in the Asia-Pacific because Guam is one of only a few places in the region with enough FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines.

The plan would be limited to U.S. citizens because the vaccines that the government of Guam is currently dispensing come from the federal government and their use are limited to U.S. citizens.

However, GVB President Carl Gutierrez informed the Guam Tourism Reopening Committee in today’s meeting that Johnson & Johnson is now selling its COVID-19 vaccines to the private sector and they’ve reached out to Guam already.

In addition, a major COVID-19 vaccine supplier, which GVB won’t name for now, has been talking to a Guam pharmacy and a private clinic for a possible minimum supply of 50,000 Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Having the vaccines in the private sector changes the whole ballgame because vaccinations can no longer be limited to U.S. citizens and non-US citizen tourists can come to Guam and pay private clinics for vaccination or buy vaccines from pharmacies.

“Tourists who are non-US citizens will have to pay. But tourists can immediately be vaccinated here if the vaccines sold in the private sector are made available to clinics here,” Gutierrez said.

But even with US expatriates alone, Gutierrez said there is a huge potential market for Guam. In the Philippines alone, there are 300,000 US expatriates and dual citizens and for Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, there are about 250,000 US expatriates.

“And we are not limiting our market to just expatriates in the Asia-Pacific. We’re open to all US citizens all over the world who want to come to Guam to get vaccinated,” Gutierrez said.