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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Palau Administers Vaccines to Keep Country Free of COVID

ap_melekeok_palau_palau_capital_building.jpg
AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye, File
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FILE - In this June 20, 2009 file photo, the Palau Capital building is seen in Melekeok, Palau.

Nearly every location around the world has been hit by the coronavirus. One of the few exceptions is in the Asia Pacific, and it's a country that's taking further steps to stay that way.

 

Covid-19 vaccinations are rolling out this week in Palau. The World Health Organization says the Pacific island archipelago is one of the few places on earth that has not had any cases of coronavirus.

Palau is part of the Compact of Free Association with the United States — providing exclusive access to U.S. military forces in exchange for financial assistance and what the U.S. Interior Department calls “uninhibited access by Palauan citizens to the United States.”

The arrangement also means that Palau is part of “Operation Warp Speed” — the U.S. vaccine program.

Palau’s government plans to administer 1,400 vaccines by the end of this week, and plans to eventually cover its entire population of about 18,000 people.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports Palau was originally set to receive the Pfizer vaccine last month, but did not have proper storage facilities to keep the vaccines cold enough. So those doses wound up in Guam, and the Moderna vaccine was sent to Palau.

Palauan officials had hoped to have the entire country vaccinated by April, but they say that date will “probably be extended” because of a slowdown in the distribution of doses.

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