US begins offering vaccines to prisoners in Guantánamo Bay

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On January 14, a week before President Biden’s inauguration, the then Assistant Attorney General of the Pentagon, William S. Castle, recommended that medics be given permission to offer vaccinations to inmates. He noted that the Pentagon “has repeatedly alleged in legal disputes that inmates receive health care comparable to that received on active duty on the island, and that the level and type of treatment depends on recognized medical standards and care to agree with this. “

Updated

April 19, 2021, 12:19 p.m. ET

The US military base in Guantánamo has approximately 5,500 residents, including approximately 250 school-age children, and a foreign workforce of approximately 2,200 Jamaican and Filipino workers who work under Pentagon contracts. The children are too young to offer the vaccinations, but the foreign workers have been offered them.

According to base health officials, by April 1, all but about 400 adults were eligible for vaccines, and about 47 percent of those eligible had not taken a single dose. Health officials there did not want or could not quantify how many of these people positively refused to receive a shot offered in a ballroom that had served as a bingo parlor prior to the pandemic.

It is also unknown how many people were infected with the coronavirus at the base, which is separated from Cuba by a minefield. The military recognized two cases in the first month involving members of the service who had recovered, but then imposed a power outage for certain disclosures.

What You Need To Know About The Johnson & Johnson US Vaccine Break

    • On April 13, 2021, U.S. health officials requested an immediate halt to use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine after six recipients in the U.S. developed a rare disease involving blood clots within one to three weeks of being vaccinated.
    • All 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico have temporarily stopped using the vaccine or suspended from recommended vendors. The U.S. military, government-run vaccination centers, and a variety of private companies, including CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, and Publix, also paused the injections.
    • Fewer than one in a million Johnson & Johnson vaccinations are currently being studied. If there is indeed a risk of blood clots from the vaccine – which has yet to be determined – the risk is extremely small. The risk of contracting Covid-19 in the United States is much higher.
    • The hiatus could complicate the country’s vaccination efforts at a time when many states are facing spikes in new cases and are trying to address vaccine hesitation.
    • Johnson & Johnson has also decided to delay the launch of its vaccine in Europe amid concerns about rare blood clots, which is taking another blow to the vaccine surge in Europe. South Africa, devastated by a contagious variant of the virus found there, also stopped using the vaccine. Australia announced that it would not buy cans.

The military managed to prevent a major outbreak there by asking people from the United States to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

No court-martial hearings have been held in more than a year, and almost none of the defense lawyers have traveled there to meet with detainees because of the pandemic. The International Red Cross has also canceled a number of visits to protect the unvaccinated detainees.

The few lawyers who traveled there and went through the two-week quarantine reported that they then met their clients under conditions that they said made communication virtually impossible. The inmates and visitors were kept many feet apart, separated by plexiglass barriers, and provided with protective clothing that only exposed their eyes. They spoke through masks and found it difficult to hear.

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