State officials are raising the alarm about the possibility of COVID vaccine doses being stolen or vandalized—prompting top officials at the Department of Defense and National Guard to discuss how best to protect the supplies that could bring an end to the pandemic.
According to three senior administration officials, states have raised these concerns about the security of these vaccine shipments with their federal counterparts. But military officials say protecting stockpiles will likely prove to a matter for the states. While officials say there is normally some concern about the integrity of medical supplies the COVID-19 vaccine has presented new challenges, particularly because the country is in the middle of battling some of the highest positive case numbers, hospitalizations, and death rates since the pandemic began. Interpol is warning that there could be an “onslaught” of fake or stolen COVID-19 vaccines from organized crime groups.
“You will see states utilize the National Guard for security purposes because the guard is good with bulk,” said Juliette Kayyem, an Obama administration assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. “States are going to want protection of the vaccine from a black market or anti-vaxxers who want to destroy it.”