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At the DPB yesterday, a reporter inquired about provisions for Foreign Service personnel in the H1N1 outbreak:
QUESTION: In regard to the H1N1 outbreak, what provisions are being made by the State Department on behalf of Foreign Service Officers serving at posts overseas? Are vaccines being made available to those serving overseas?
ANSWER: The Office of Medical Services expects the H1N1 vaccine will be available to most of our overseas missions sometime in December.
Because of the extremely limited amounts of vaccine available to the Department of State through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of Medical Services is purchasing additional H1N1 vaccine doses from the Department of Defense for shipment overseas to try to address our needs.
The Office of Medical Services already has shipped its initial allotments of the vaccine to Baghdad and Kabul where employees live in barrack-like conditions. The next distribution priority is to hardship posts where local medical care is inadequate, and these shipments have begun.
H1N1 remains sensitive to Tamiflu and Relenza, therefore all posts overseas have been stocked with enough of these anti-viral drugs to treat all individuals at post.
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Would you zap me an email if you don’t get it by December? Excerpt below from U.S. Government Pandemic Policy for Americans Abroad, in case you have not seen it:
It is U.S. Government policy for all overseas employees under Chief of Mission authority and their accompanying dependents to plan for the possibility that they will remain abroad during a severe pandemic. Information for both official and private Americans on how to prepare for this possibility is contained in the flyer “ Options During a Pandemic ,” which urges Americans to maintain adequate provisions for a pandemic wave or waves that could last from two to twelve weeks.
Once the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms a severe pandemic, American citizens (including non-emergency government personnel and their dependents, as well as private citizens) who are residing or traveling overseas should consider returning to the United States while commercial travel options are still available. Americans will be permitted to re-enter the United States, although the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS/CDC) may quarantine or isolate incoming travelers, depending on their health status and whether they are traveling from or through an area affected by pandemic influenza.
In the event of a severe pandemic, non-emergency U.S. Government employees and all dependents in affected areas will be encouraged to return to the United States while commercial transportation is still available. U.S. Government employees who return to the United States will be expected to work there during the pandemic unless they take leave. Private American citizens should make an informed decision: either remain abroad to wait out the pandemic, as noted above, or return to the United States while this option still exists. Any American (whether overseas in a private capacity or a U.S. Government employee or dependent) who chooses not to return to the United States via commercial means might have to remain abroad for the duration of the pandemic if transportation is disrupted or borders close. Americans should be aware that only in cases of a complete breakdown in civil order within a country will the U.S. Government consider a U.S. Government-sponsored evacuation operation.
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