Vaccinations for Americans Abroad

It is an issue for those wanting a vaccination.

The following is an extract from an email I got from an American couple living in Spain. They were there on vacation when the pandemic hit and there they remain, living in “vaccination limbo” without a country to support them.

See the account below, and when you have a beef about the United States vaccination journey, you might have a better appreciation for our current vaccination state of affairs.

From Spain:

“____ and I are still stuck in Spain, since we do not want to risk traveling without being properly vaccinated.

“The Spanish system is very slow and non-transparent.

“We feel that US citizens stranded abroad have been forgotten about, when it comes to vaccinations.

“We contacted the US embassy in Madrid. No answer. We contacted the State Department via phone. Referral to CDC in Atlanta, GA. The operator at CDC did not even know where Spain was and had no clue what to do.

“So, we contacted WA senior US senator Patty Murray as well as WA US congresswoman Pramila Javenpah (7th district, where we are registered voters), both via their respective websites and via fax asking for help. No answer from neither. Not even acknowledgement of message reception. Very unflattering.

“Since we have so many outposts throughout the world, many of which with medical staff on site, these could serve as vaccination centers for US citizens (embassies, consulates, military installations, etc).

“Ten miles from here is the US Naval Station at Rota. We then contacted the Station Commander. And, yes, they indeed have surplus Covid vaccines. And they would love to help us out. But guess what? The DoD does not let them do it. They said, they have been explicitly instructed to NOT provide humanitarian aid.


“Anyway, through some tweaking by locals, I am now scheduled to get my first shot next Tuesday from the Spanish system. But for Lisa we have no idea when she would get hers. In Spain you cannot make an appointment. The only way you can be scheduled is that THEY call you! No email, nothing. You have to be able to understand and speak Spanish. Can you imagine how many fellow Americans currently stranded in Spain cannot clear that language hurdle?

“While it is wonderful to see that the vaccination campaign is in full swing back home, it is so strange that US citizens outside any US jurisdiction are completely left to their own devices.

“Anyway. We have to wait and remain patient.”
Eric Holdeman is a nationally known emergency manager. He has worked in emergency management at the federal, state and local government levels. Today he serves as the Director, Center for Regional Disaster Resilience (CRDR), which is part of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER). The focus for his work there is engaging the public and private sectors to work collaboratively on issues of common interest, regionally and cross jurisdictionally.