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Should US citizens living outside the US get a free vaccine provided by the US?


Amira
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The title is about the US, but this doesn’t have to be limited to US citizens.  If you’re an expat right now for any reason, do you think your passport country should provide you with a vaccine where you’re currently living, if/when it has plenty of vaccine available?  Here’s one article making a case for it. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-americans-who-cant-get-vaccines-11622156230?st=51j0txwj89owusj&reflink=article_copyURL_share&fbclid=IwAR2mMntafQAo7_DQxr9-lBay5VujjIrXmkP59jE997yKDxClTd5Iw8YTN-A

As of right now, the US doesn’t intend to provide vaccines to US expats. If you’re an expat, what do you think about that?  I know so many people dealing with this right now. But honestly, I can’t see how it could be done.  It’s not just shipping vaccines, but administering them.  There are tens of thousands of expat US citizens living in some places and setting up and staffing vaccine clinics just seems unworkable.

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Posted (edited)

This is simply not practical.

I think the country where you are living needs to provide the vaccines to all, not just their citizens. And if the US has extra, it's more effective to donate those in bulk that cherry picking its expats. ( Also, US expats receiving vaccines while the other folks in their country are waiting seems problematic)

 

Edited by regentrude
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I totally agree with regentrude.  It is to everyone's advantage just to get the vaccines out and in arms as fast a possible at this point.   Vaccine tourism is a thing for sure.  My kid goes to a large public university with a good number of international students, and a lot of those families are thrilled their students will have access when they come.  

Interesting aside.  My husband works for a large tech company based on the east coast that has a large office in India.  There are about 500 employees in that office.  They have lost 4 employees to covid, 3 under age 40 with young children.  Many more have lost parents.  I am not comfortable telling other people's stories, but we have heard so many heartbreaking tales.  He meets with these coworkers digitally almost daily.  His company is setting up a vaccine clinic for employees and their families (broad definition as there are many multi generational households in India).  I am relieved for these families, but very sad for lower income families who will definitely get their opportunity much later.  

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I'm one of the approximately 8 (?) million overseas Americans.  We live in Colombia and the government here has purchased 4 or 5 different COVID-19 vaccines and everyone  (there are 5 groups, by ages, youngest people will go last) will receive it free.

As was pointed out, the shipping and freezer requirements, especially for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are very stringent.

BTW, approximately 2 days ago I read an article that said the USA will donate vaccines to many countries. I think Colombia might be included in the very long list of countries.

It is, at least to date, illegal  to charge for the COVID-19 vaccine here. 

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Was just talking to an ex-pat friend who is waiting to get one of the mRNA vaccines.  The country where they are living heavily relies on the Chinese ones.  He does not expect the US to figure out difficult shipping requirements to send it to him.  As others said, that is very impractical logistically.  Plus - in a country where there is a high degree of documented government corruption, I would think that it would be unlikely that any shipped vaccine would get to his specific family. 

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44 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Was just talking to an ex-pat friend who is waiting to get one of the mRNA vaccines.  The country where they are living heavily relies on the Chinese ones.  He does not expect the US to figure out difficult shipping requirements to send it to him.  As others said, that is very impractical logistically.  Plus - in a country where there is a high degree of documented government corruption, I would think that it would be unlikely that any shipped vaccine would get to his specific family. 

That is so true, Jean — and I hadn’t even considered the corruption angle.

It is ridiculous to think the US should be wasting resources by trying to get vaccines directly to ex-pats.  It’s not as though it’s just a few people and someone could say, “Ooh, let’s not forget the Petersons! I have their address in Italy right here, so we’d better get a guy over there to vaccinate them.”

If I move to another country, I can’t assume that the United States will still be responsible for getting a vaccine to me. There are ex-pats all over the world. It would be a financial and logistical nightmare.

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DD is a US citizen in another country.  She is on the list in that country for vaccine but does not qualify yet.   I do not see how it would be efficient for the US to provide a vaccine for specific individuals abroad.  Even if the US government told foreign governments it would reimburse them for the vaccine for each US citizen who is vaccinated, the cost of administering that would be larger than the payments themselves.  I could see two reasonable possibilities in which the US could make the vaccine available to some expats--have vaccines available at US military bases and US embassies and allow non-military and non-embassy employees who are US citizens to receive vaccines at those locations.  

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Posted (edited)

We are ex-pats living overseas--we got vaccinated via the local gov't drives.  Like others have said, US expats are ALL over the world -- I never would expect the US gov't to provide ME with a vaccine while living in another country.  If we weren't able to get one here or only ones we didn't want, we'd undergo the inconvenience of flying back to the States for vaccines.  Living abroad has plusses and minuses...

Edited by VickiMNE
typo
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Posted (edited)

For military staff, yes. I feel there is a moral obligation if the country has surplus to get the vaccines to their outstation military staff e.g. US bases in Japan

For embassy staff, if feasible. 

Edited by Arcadia
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As EU citizen from country X living in country Y we get the vaccins in the country where we live. 
Citizens from this country, living outside the EU may choose to get the vaccin where they live, or travel back and get it here. 
 

 

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I think if you are associated with the US (diplomacy or military or embassy worker) or a dependent of that group they should be sending vaccines to the embassies. 
 

If you are just an expat, no. Though I understand with the current high rate expat tax situation why people are feeling salty. Your taxes are paying into a system and subsidies for US citizens yet you can’t access those benefits from where you are at.

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Agreeing with nearly everyone here. I've lived abroad. If I'd gotten stuck abroad during Covid, I would not have expected the US to somehow get me the vaccine. It would have been deeply impractical. But also, I just believe nations need to be focused on vaccinating their populations regardless of status. The only qualifiers for getting the vaccine before anyone else should be your health risk factors or job related risk factors, not your nation of origin. Because once you're in a place, that's where you're part of the spread and the curve and that's where you'll be a burden on the healthcare system if you get sick. Who cares if you're actually a citizen of somewhere else.

Also agreeing that for US military bases and embassies, this issue is maybe a little different. I would especially expect the US military to be vaccinating all military and staff living on bases abroad.

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I actually would expect the US to manage to get vaccine to military and embassy/USAID staff and dependents.  Sure, it's logistically hard.  Maybe it's logistically simpler personnel in some farflung places to travel to regional vax sites than to try to deliver doses out to them.  But there are logistical challenges to protecting direct US employees and dependents from all sorts of hazards and dangers that the US manages to deal with (coups, Chernobyl, ebola); it comes with the territory.

I certainly don't think it's an obligation for *all* expats.  Perhaps other US citizens could make their way to regional vax sites/dates at their own expense?  It's not, at this point, as if *supply of doses* is any longer an issue.  Just the logistics piece.

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Posted (edited)

I know of Brits living overseas who have travelled back to the UK for jabs if their place of residence was not offering them.  If they are still registered with a GP  here and can travel within the regulations including testing and quarantine that seems okay - not ideal but okay. I  can't see how the UK would have managed sending the right vaccines to every expat in the world.

 

Edited by Laura Corin
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Follow-on:  I am hoping and praying DD can get fully vaccinated (preferably with Pfizer/BioNTech) before she goes back to school in August. She is young so she is in group 5, the last group. I think they are giving vaccinations to Group 3 now.  Here they give the vaccinations in many places. The only thing is that if one  wants a particular vaccine, they may need to find a place that has that vaccine that day.  I read in our WhatsApp they are even going to give vaccinations in our subdivision, possibly tomorrow. That will be for people in Groups 1 and 2 and 3.

The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna) are very demanding regarding shipping and storage. I read, last year, that there were only about 50 of the ultra low temperature freezers here in Colombia that were available for vaccine storage and I see news stories about small lots of Pfizer/BioNTech coming into the country. Usually about 500K or 550K doses.

I believe so far that the Sinovac (Chinese) vaccine is the one that has arrived in the largest quantity. About 7.5 million doses. And then Pfizer/BioNTech about 5.5 million doses and then AstraZeneca about 1.2 or 2 million doses.  I think they also bought Moderna and Janssen but that none of those have arrived here yet.

It's free to everyone here, whether they have the Obligatory Health Plan (we do) or not and whether they are rich or poor.

Regarding U.S. Military personnel there is a lot of resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine and at this time it is optional, because it is being given under an EUA.  After it has full authorization, then DoD can make it mandatory.

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It's a big discussion in Australia. You're not allowed to leave Australia without permission and it's hard to get back - few flights, once you get back you have to quarantine at high cost in a facility for weeks. It would be a lot easier if the embassies or whatever could vaccinate the Australians wanting to return home. As it is they're having to wait months, so they may as well go through the full vaccine waiting time before they board that plane. It would protect Australians, as the only way covid is getting in is via these returnees. 

If you're an Australian happily living as an ex-pat in New York (lots of them!) no, Australia shouldn't have to vaccinate you. But if you're one of those stuck overseas wanting to come back, I think it would be helpful. (As to why they're stuck overseas, lots of reasons, a lot of the time it is people who are caring for elderly parents in their last days.)

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No, all my health care is taken care of in the country I live in. If I need specialized care I come back to the states for that. 

Right now the vaccine is not available to me in my country. But it should be hopefully by fall. 

The only way I could see the US needing to provide is if they require entry to the states to only those who are vaccinated. 

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Former ex-pat here. I just don't see how it could be done. I do, however, think every attempt should be made to get the vaccines to the embassy/consulate employees and to military personnel. They are in service to our country, and I would like to see them honored in this way. On the other hand, as a pp said, there are pros and cons to living overseas, and one of them (either direction) is available medical care.

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The year I lived abroad, I'm pretty sure the US government didn't know I was there. I mean, maybe? The government of China definitely did because I had a work visa. But how would the US government have even known if I didn't register at the consulate... which I never bothered to do. I feel like that's problem one right there. They only have estimates, not hard numbers.

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I agree with others:  For people who are abroad serving their country via the military or embassy work, etc., then yes.  For all others, no.  My dd is an expat abroad but it was her choice to live there.  She doesn't expect the US to provide her health needs.  She does everything through the country's own health system.  (In fact, she just had her first shot a couple weeks ago!)  

The US gives the Covid vaccine to foreigners in the US, citizens or not.  

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If there was an exceptionally large population, and embassy and an easily transported vaccine maybe but it is really not practical.  Most(all?) people will get vaccinated where they live for free simp!y because every person who gets vaccinated makes it safest.

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