March 31 (UPI) -- The Peace Corps announced Wednesday it will be jumping into the COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
The deployment will only be the second time in the organization's 60-year history that members will work domestically.
Peace Corp members will be deployed to aid the Federal Emergency Management Agency's COVID-19 vaccination program. Members with specialized skills will be posted for short-term assignments of less than 12 months.
"Working closely with our federal partners, state and local leaders, community-based organizations and the private sector is critical in getting as many vaccines to the public as possible," acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton said. "Our partnership with the Peace Corps is an example of our commitment to reaching underserved and historically marginalized communities to ensure equal access to vaccines."Assignments would include assistance to urgent needs and to communities with a history of being underserved. FEMA is teaming up with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify marginalized demographics and provide the best advice to reach anyone who would want a vaccine.
FEMA is providing personnel, supplies and funding to establish and expand more than 500 state-led community vaccination centers in different states.
Anticipating field deployment by mid-May, Peace Corps volunteer tasks cover language, administrative, logistical and other supports to to vaccine centers.
One year ago, the Peace Corps recalled about 7,000 volunteers from foreign assignments due to the pandemic.
The organization said the special domestic missions do not alter its original commitments and volunteers will return to overseas assignments once health conditions permit.
The last domestic deployment of Peace Corps members was to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast in 2005.
FEMA is opening community vaccination centers in Boston, Essex, N.J.; Norfolk, Va.; and Yakima, Wash. this week.