The U.S. military has flown its own COVID-19 vaccine supply into the Northern Territory to inoculate the Marine Rotational Force based in Darwin in Australia’s “top end.”
About 2,200 servicemen and women in the NT have started receiving their first doses, which are being administered by U.S. Navy medical officers.
The vaccine is offered under the U.S.’s emergency use authorisation to armed forces members who choose to receive it.
“We have received and administered these vaccines in an effort to fight against COVID-19,” a Marine spokesman said on Monday.
“(This will) protect the community in which we live and work, as well as our forces here in the Top End.”
The U.S. military has supplied enough vaccines for first and second doses but didn’t say which vaccine it is using.
All Marines are subject to strict screening and quarantine requirements prior to departure and on arrival into Australia.
They must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours before departure for Australia.
This is followed by mandatory 14-day quarantine in secure facilities at RAAF Base Darwin and nearby Bladin Village.
A small number of Marines have tested positive for the virus while in the NT and been transferred to the Howard Springs quarantine facility.
The 2021 deployment is the 10th annual Marine Rotational Force to be based in Darwin.
They are part of the ongoing posture initiative to promote regional stability under the ANZUS Treaty.
Darwin’s location just south of more than a dozen Asian countries and some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes makes it a strategic stepping-off point should the force receive orders to do so.
By Aaron Bunch