American Samoa will require proof of vaccination for travelers once it opens its borders, planned for Sept. 13.
The Pacific territory will hold a “test flight” on Monday, to try out its pre-travel screening protocols for travelers, called TALOFAPASS. Up to 100 people will be on the flight, including medical professionals and essential personnel.
The last commercial flight from Hawaii to American Samoan capital Pago Pago was on March 26 of last year, though almost 2,000 residents have been repatriated on flights chartered to the islands since then. The territory has not reported any cases of the virus, though four were reported aboard two container ships.
Proof of vaccination for travel was instituted when the Food and Drug Administration approved its first coronavirus vaccine, as dictated by American Samoa’s Aug. 13 Declaration of Ongoing Public Health Emergency.
Commercial flights were set to resume on Aug. 26, though the date was pushed back due to the surge in cases of the delta variant and implementation of the TALOFAPASS system, Samoa News reported.
In light of the planned border opening, Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Vaalele Ale urged his constituents to get vaccinated. Just over 25,000 are fully vaccinated in American Samoa, almost half the population.
“The implementation of the TALOFAPASS systems means we are one step closer to opening up our borders,” Talauega said in a statement. “So we must do what it takes to stay safe and give our local public health system a jump start to responding and containing the possible spread of the virus.”
Thomas Heaton is a Li Center for Global Journalism Fellow. The position is supported by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Institute for Nonprofit News. You can reach him by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @thomasheaton.