President Panuelo Solicits U.S. CDC & HHS Support to Increase FSM’s Vaccination Rates

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President Panuelo Solicits U.S. CDC & HHS Support to Increase FSM’s COVID-19 Vaccination Rates


PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On June 9th, 2021, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—received Dr. Thane Hancock, Senior Medical Epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (U.S. CDC), for a courtesy call. Accompanied by Her Excellency Carmen G. Cantor, Ambassador of the United States of America to the FSM, and Rodger Garner, Country Coordinator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the primary outcome of the meeting was President Panuelo’s request of Dr. Hancock to work with the FSM Department of Health & Social Affairs to develop a proposal for U.S. medical professionals to assist the Nation with increasing its COVID-19 vaccination rate.


The bulk of the conversation focused on the importance of the FSM improving its vaccination rate, and combatting misinformation. Dr. Hancock noted that, of the more than 170,000,000 Americans who have taken either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the former two have resulted in zero deaths, whereas COVID-19 is directly responsible for the deaths of approximately 600,000 Americans—a number that is, itself, approximately equivalent to six FSMs. In other words: the threat of COVID-19 is very high, and the threat of the COVID-19 vaccine is very low.


Dr. Hancock reiterated the central ideas that COVID-19 is bad, that the vaccines are effective, and that the vaccines are safe. The good doctor described the circumstances in numerous countries and territories. The State of Israel, it was explained, implemented a mass vaccination drive which resulted in the country’s success against COVID-19.


Dr. Hancock described the COVID-19 vaccine as the game-changer that will help the FSM transition from its current status of being COVID-19 free to a new status of being COVID-19 protected. President Panuelo was advised that the U.S. CDC and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (U.S. DHHS) can provide support in helping the Nation reach its minimal vaccination target of 70%, and asked if such assistance might be desired or needed.


“We need it as of yesterday,” President Panuelo said. “I will humbly ask that [Marcus Samo, Acting Secretary of the FSM Department of Health & Social Affairs] work with you to develop a proposal…for [U.S. CDC & U.S.DHHS] medical experts to assist in our vaccination campaign. I’d say let’s do it as early as possible.”


The meeting concluded on a positive note, with Dr. Hancock and Ambassador Cantor advising that they’ll do what they can to explore how the U.S. CDC and U.S. DHHS can support the FSM’s vaccination campaign.


“Thank you Dr. Hancock,” President Panuelo said, “For helping the whole Micronesian region…the FSM always welcomes you.”


As of June 9th, 2021, the FSM remains COVID-19 free. 21,796 Micronesian adults—or 37% of the Nation’s adult population—is fully vaccinated or has otherwise completed the COVID-19 vaccination regime.


23,369 Micronesian adults—or 40% of the Nation’s adult population—has received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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