American embassy staff get COVID-19 vaccine

Maria Hamutenya

American Embassy Namibia staff have become the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the country, the Windhoek Observer can reveal.

This comes after doses where made available to staff recently including locals. It is, however, not clear if family members of staff, including locals were included as part of the inoculation.

“Protecting and promoting the health, safety, and security of the Department of State’s workforce is our top priority so that we can continue to carry out our mission on behalf of the American people,” said the U.S. Embassy Spokesperson Walter Parrs when contacted by the Windhoek Observer.

The Embassy Spokesperson was, however, not forthcoming with details on when the staff members had received the vaccine and the total number of beneficiaries.

“Due to operational sensitivity, the department is not publicly sharing specific details of the timing or logistics of the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine for the Department of State’s workforce at this time.”

Quizzed if American nationals in Namibia will also receive the vaccine, Parrs the United States government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas.

“As part of our efforts to give U.S. citizens timely information so that they can make informed choices about travel abroad, U.S. citizens traveling or residing overseas should follow host country developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination,” he said.

“The U.S. Department of State has no greater responsibility than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas. The Department continues to proactively communicate travel advice and warnings to U.S. citizens amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

The European Union to Namibia when contacted said plans were being made to avail the vaccine to its Namibian staff although not specifying if Namibians working in the local office will also be vaccinated.

“Yes, the intention is to avail the vaccine to the EU staff members, the most vulnerable members will be identified first,” the Embassy said.

The EU office further said it was assisting Namibia to access the vaccine through the Covax programme, but because of the country’s status as an upper middle-income country, it has to pay.

“The EU provides extensive assistance to the COVAX programme which also benefits Namibia. Since Namibia is an upper middle-income country; Namibia pays to receive it.”

COVAX Facility, is a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure eventual COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need, whoever they are and wherever they live.

The German Embassy, however, said that so far no plans existed for providing the vaccine to its staff and nationals in Namibia.

“The German Embassy Windhoek has not received any vaccines for staff members. We do not know yet, if and when the Embassy will receive vaccines for Embassy employees. It is so far not planned to offer vaccination for German citizens living in Namibia.”

The plans by the foreign embassies come as local COVID-19 cases remain on the upward trend. There have been 333 new cases reported on January 22, 2021 by the Ministry of Health.

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