Feds rejected CDC's recommendation to give migrants flu shots last year


Two children died from the flu last year in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody after the agency rejected CDC's recommendation to give migrants flu shots, according to a letter released to Congress and cited by The Washington Post. 

CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, disclosed the agency's recommendation in a Nov. 7 written response to U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-Conn, chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for HHS. Ms. DeLauro had initially asked Dr. Redfield in an Oct. 4 letter if CBP had discussed the flu-related pediatric deaths at detention centers with the CDC.

The CDC vaccination recommendation came after an 8-year-old boy died of the flu while in CBP custody last December. CBP rejected the recommendation and at least two other children died from flu-related complications while detained, according to autopsy reports cited by The Washington Post. 

Ms. DeLauro said CBP's refusal to provide flu shots to detained migrants is "unconscionable," especially given the overcrowding that often occurs at detention centers. Flu outbreaks at these centers sickened hundreds of agents and detainees in the 2018-19 season.

Detained migrants have never received immunizations from CBP officials, Kelly Cahalan, an agency spokesperson, told The Washington Post.

"CBP has significantly expanded medical support efforts, and now has more than 250 medical personnel engaged along the Southwest border," Ms. Cahalan said. "To try and layer a comprehensive vaccinations system on to that would be logistically very challenging for a number of reasons." 

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