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Sunday, December 5th, 2021

DHS completes vaccination campaign for Afghan evacuees

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) completed Operation Allies Welcome (OAW), a nationwide vaccination campaign focused on Afghan evacuees temporarily housed at eight domestic military installations.

As part of the initiative, 49,000 evacuees have been immunized for measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and varicella (chickenpox). Medical exams and health screenings have also been administered as a condition of the evacuees humanitarian parole.

“The success of this vaccination campaign demonstrates our commitment to the health and well-being of arriving Afghan evacuees, the personnel assisting this mission, and the American people,” Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, DHS chief medical officer and lead medical advisor of OAW, said. “Operation Allies Welcome reflects the best of our country and this vaccination effort could not have been achieved without the dedication of local health care facilities and partnership between the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, State and Homeland Security.”

Afghan guests remain at domestic military installations for at least 21 days after the MMR vaccine is administered, officials noted, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. Persons with special medical needs may be relocated sooner after the completion of vaccinations and other medical requirements.

“The ultimate goal of Operation Allies Welcome is to successfully resettle our Afghan allies into local communities while prioritizing national security and public health,” Robert Fenton, OAW senior response official, said. “This historic effort is part of our enduring commitment to those who supported or worked on behalf of our nation over the last 20 years.”