COLONIA, YAP. JUNE 5, 2023(CFSM – Yap Delegation Office) - Senator Isaac V. Figir has issued a comprehensive response letter to Governor Charles S. Chieng, addressing the concerns raised by the Governor regarding the economic recovery and development obstacles caused by the nation’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements for entry into the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), specifically in the State of Yap.
In his letter, Senator Figir emphasizes the importance of a balanced approach that prioritizes the health and economic prosperity of both the FSM and the State of Yap. Acknowledging the Governor’s concerns, the Senator highlights the necessity of collaborative decision-making to protect citizens’ health while promoting sustainable economic growth.
Furthermore, Senator Figir underscores the critical role of scientific evidence and expert advice from organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in shaping effective public health policies. He explains, “Based on the COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations from the WHO and CDC, I voted in favor of CB No. 22–303.”
CB No. 22-303, which did not pass in the 22nd FSM Congress, aimed to amend the FSM Healthy Border Protection Act of 2022 by removing the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all persons entering the FSM. Additionally, it would have authorized the FSM Department of Health to reinstate the vaccination entry requirements through regulations in the event of an outbreak.
Senator Figir also addresses concerns about the limited health workforce capacity of state health departments and their ability to respond to public health emergencies. “State health departments’ capacities are limited, and states were dependent upon the national government to provide funding during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Senator shared in his letter to the Governor. He encourages further collaboration to ensure the health safety of the people.
In response to the developments since CB No. 22-303 failed to pass in early May during the last congress, Senator Figir highlights the following key updates:
1. On May 15, 2023, President Wesley W. Simina submitted a similar bill to Congress, aiming to amend the FSM Healthy Border Protection Act of 2022. The bill is seeking to remove the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for entry into the FSM, and to authorize the FSM Department of Health to reinstitute the requirement by regulation. The bill, known as CB No. 23-06, is now before the newly organized 23rd FSM Congress for consideration.
2. On May 17, 2023, the FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs published a proposed regulation for public comments. This regulation aims to redefine “fully vaccinated” for the purpose of entering the FSM to include individuals who receive one dose of the bivalent Pfizer or bivalent Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, two doses are required to be considered “fully vaccinated”. The proposed amended regulation aligns with the most current guidelines from the WHO and CDC. It is scheduled to take effect on June 17, 2023.
In conclusion, Senator Figir reiterates the need for open dialogue, unity, and an unwavering commitment to prioritizing the welfare and health of the citizens.
For more information on this and other activities of the FSM Congress, please visit www.cfsm.gov.fm.
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