The Federal Emergency Management Agency is vaccinating some of the thousands of Afghanistan refugees with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot as they enter the United States near Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
According to an NPR report, American citizens returning from Afghanistan and some of the refugees entering the United States are being given the vaccine at a mobile unit near the airport with interpreters on site to answer their questions.
Dulles is currently the only United States airport offering the shots, according to the report, with another mobile center expected to open in Philadelphia when flights start arriving there next Friday.
Most of the arriving refugees coming into Dulles went to other host nations first, such as Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Germany, Spain, and Bulgaria, but are tested for COVID once they reach the U.S.
A spokesman for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said 8,600 people arrived on Wednesday, with just 11 of the 900 Afghan refugees testing positive for the virus on Tuesday.
The influx comes from the chaotic exodus of American citizens, third country nationals and Afghan refugees fleeing Taliban control of the war-torn nation in the wake of the United States pullout following 20 years of war.
Although the clinics are set up and giving out the vaccines, Virginia officials say they are not being “widely used.”
"These people are just coming out of a war zone," Northam told NPR. "They're landing in a new country. And so, I think a lot of it is going to be educational. I don't think this is something you just automatically want to say, 'You need to get a shot.' So, we're trying to at least handle some of these individuals with respect and, you know, kid gloves, rather than saying, 'Do this, do that.' "
According to Johns Hopkins University, only 0.58% of the population in Afghanistan is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the only one of the three authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration to deliver a single dose.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots, and the FDA recently fully approved the Pfizer shots but is still evaluating the other two.
In the United States, Pfizer has delivered 237,905,295 doses, Moderna has delivered 178,158,240 doses, and Johnson & Johnson 21,484,400 doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fifty-two percent of the people in the United States are fully vaccinated, and 61.3% have had at least one dose, according to the CDC.
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