Frustration is growing among Americans abroad over a lack of access to vaccines for the coronavirus, The Washington Post reports. They and their advocates, who represent millions of American citizens, say they’ve been stonewalled by the White House and watched despairingly as doses in the U.S. have expired unused. The State Department has maintained that it does not typically provide direct medical care to private citizens abroad and that prioritizing vaccines for overseas American citizens could jeopardize international relations. An advocate speaking to the Post called it a “thorny issue.”
Instead, the White House has largely encouraged Americans abroad to return home for their jabs. More than a dozen of these expats spoke to the Post, one of whom said “COVID-19 is rampant” in India, where he lives. “You don’t want me to travel home and bring a dangerous COVID-19 variant.” Others say they can’t afford the trip home. At least one family, according to the Post, was hospitalized with virus-related infections after being unable to secure vaccines. State Department officials said vaccine shortages abroad would eventually be alleviated but offered no specific timeline for an expedited rollout.