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CBP Won't Vaccinate Migrants Against Flu

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency's announcement that it won't vaccinate migrants is being slammed by public health experts.

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Since December, three migrant children in U.S custody have died after coming down with the flu, CNN reported.

"In general, due to the short-term nature of CBP holding and the complexities of operating vaccination programs, neither CBP nor its medical contractors administer vaccinations to those in our custody," a CBP statement released Tuesday said.

Even though migrants are supposed to be held in CBP custody for a maximum of 72 hours, many remain for longer, CNN reported.

The CBP should be able to vaccinate migrants, even if they're in custody for only a few days, public health experts say.

"I think their answer is completely inappropriate," Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University and an adviser to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN.

"They ought to be able to do this. They create facilities that encourage the spread of infectious agents, with flu at the top of the list," Schaffner said.

In a letter to the heads of the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, two members of Congress expressed concern about contagious diseases being spread among detained migrants, CNN reported.

"When we visited the Homestead detention facility on July 15, 2019, we left with serious questions about the screening, treatment, isolation, and prevention protocols of infectious diseases, particularly influenza," Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a Democrat from California, said in the letter sent earlier this month.

They also sent a letter from physicians at Harvard and Johns Hopkins urging vaccinations for detained migrants, CNN reported.

"During the influenza season, vaccination should be offered to all detainees promptly upon arrival in order to maximize protection for the youngest and most vulnerable detainees," the physicians wrote.

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