Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) has completed a historic and nationwide vaccination campaign for measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), and varicella (chickenpox) to Afghan evacuees who are temporarily staying at eight military installations in the United States. As a result of this effort, more than 49,000 Afghan evacuees nationwide are now vaccinated. Evacuees are also receiving vaccinations at staging areas in Europe and the Middle East. OAW flights from staging areas will resume this week.
Arriving eligible Afghans receive the MMR, varicella, polio, COVID-19, and other age appropriate vaccinations, as well as medical exams and health screenings, as a condition of their humanitarian parole. Pursuant to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Afghan guests will remain at domestic military installations for at least 21 days after the MMR vaccine is administered. In some cases, persons who have special medical needs may be relocated more quickly, after vaccinations and other medical requirements are completed.
“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,” said Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, the DHS Chief Medical Officer and lead medical advisor of OAW. “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.”
“The ultimate goal of Operation Allies Welcome is to successfully resettle our Afghan allies into local communities while prioritizing national security and public health,” said Robert Fenton, Senior Response Official for OAW. “This historic effort is part of our enduring commitment to those who supported or worked on behalf of our Nation over the last twenty years.”
“Our nation’s citizens should feel confident in all that has been accomplished as well as the continuing efforts by the Department of Defense (DoD) along with our contract partners, to enable our Afghan guests to be fully ready to depart DoD installations where they are temporarily residing to safely begin their lives in America,” said General Glen D. VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command, the lead combatant command for the operation.
The DoD is supporting OAW through medical screening, transportation, lodging, and general support on DoD installations for Afghan evacuees. OAW provides essential support at secure locations where these Afghan allies can safely complete the necessary steps for resettlement in the United States. Through OAW, America is delivering on its commitment to Afghan allies, many of whom worked on behalf of the United States at great personal risk to themselves and their families.
In order to enter the United States, Afghan evacuees must successfully complete a rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process including biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and additional Intelligence Community partners.