Migrants in border detention centers won’t receive flu vaccines from the U.S. government

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:


  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Tuesday that the U.S. government will not provide flu vaccines to migrant families being held in detention centers near the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • A group of doctors associated with Harvard and Johns Hopkins wrote to members of Congress, saying they suspect that the DHS and the HHS “may not be following best practices with respect to screening, treatment, isolation and prevention of influenza.”
  • According to the CBP, it has about 200 medical personnel along the southern border who are available on-site for 24/7.



Just weeks before the flu season begins, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Tuesday that the U.S. government will not provide flu vaccines to migrant families being held in detention centers near the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a statement to CBS News, a spokesman for the CBP said: “In general, due to the short term nature of CBP holding, the time the vaccine takes to begin working, and the complexities of operating vaccination programs, neither CBP nor its medical contractors administer vaccinations to those in our custody.”

The migrants will not receive vaccines even after three migrant children have died in the past year from the flu.

Medical doctors associated with Harvard and Johns Hopkins wrote to members of Congress to call for an investigation into the health care of migrants in detention facilities. Specifically, they cited the children who died from the illness, indicating that flu deaths “are fairly rare events for children living in the United States.”

“We suspect that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) may not be following best practices with respect to screening, treatment, isolation and prevention of influenza,” the doctors wrote.

The flu season often begins in October and usually peaks between December and February, according to the CDC. The flu activity can continue through May.

In July, a detailed report of the dangerous conditions at migrant detention centers was released by the DHS’ internal watchdog. The facilities were overcrowded and the children go on days without a hot meal. Over 2,500 unaccompanied migrant children had been held for more than three days — a violation of a court settlement that governs the care of minors in U.S. custody, according to the report.

“We are concerned that overcrowding and prolonged detention represent an immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained,” the report said.

According to the CBP, it has about 200 medical personnel along the southern border, an increase from only 20 a year ago. The CBP added that medical personnel is available on site for 24/7.

“Individuals with flu are handled as appropriate depending on the specific circumstances,” a CBP spokesperson said.

At least six migrant children who were in U.S. custody or recently left have died since September 2018. Before that, according to government data, no children had died in Border Patrol custody for a decade, CBS News reported.

 

Source: CBS News

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