A group of doctors, alarmed by the Trump administration's refusal of influenza vaccines for immigrants in custody, urges the Department of Homeland Security to accept its proposal to provide free flu shots to California detainees.
In a November 5 letter, doctors pleaded with the administration to reconsider its decision not to vaccinate migrant detainees against the flu, despite the deaths of at least three children in the CBP arrest in the 2018 flu season.
Camp Closure Formed, D4CC Camp Doctors Offered to Make Free Government Influenza Vaccine at Government Treatment and Detention Facility in San Isidro, California, Customs and Border Protection.
"We urge you to allow our volunteer doctors to hold the flu clinic we have requested," the doctors said in the letter.
Customs and border protection, part of Homeland Security, did not accept the proposal. was named because of the agency's policy, said in a statement sent to NBC News that the agency had never used vaccines and people were not usually held in custody for very long.
"As a law enforcement agency and because of the short-term nature of CBP's conduct and other logistics challenges, operating a vaccine program is not feasible, "said a spokesman.
Although CBP guidelines recommend detaining people for no more than 72 hours, the agency has been holding people for far longer as asylum seekers have arrived. last year and this year, although they have since fallen. John Brecher / NBC News [1
"That's how the epidemics start," said Dr. Luz Contreras Arroyo, a member of the group, and signed the letter to NBC News. "It's not just migrants. Workers will come out to communities, potentially spread the virus and it can get out of control.
" And these are people, "Arroyo added, referring to detained families." They are under the care of detainees. the government, most have not committed crimes. The search for asylum is not a crime. "
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The group has set a deadline of Tuesday for to respond to the administration before publishing the request.
Physician they warned that migrants are not the only people at risk of illness.
"The flu season has already started in many parts of the country, so we are writing urgently," said doctors. "Many people, including those working in and living near CBP centers will be at even greater risk than the typical one. "
Doctors brought in money and raised more from friends and others to pay for the vaccines. Doctors volunteer time to provide the photos, said Arroyo, a Sacramento family medicine doctor and psychiatrist.
Doctors said they also have a network of volunteers licensed to work in all states to get the vaccines they need and work with CBP to "create a system to ensure that the majority of migrant families," held in custody of CBP were vaccinated.
They are hoping for government funding to help pay for vaccine costs nationwide. If not, they will try to find other funding.
Doctors say that based on approximately 200,000 children in federal detention over the last two years, the three deaths of detained children are nine times higher than expected mortality for flu children.
"In our professional medical opinion, this worrying mortality is an emergency that threatens the safety of human life, especially for children," says a letter signed by seven doctors.
In August, CBP announced that it would not vaccinate migrant families in its state centers before the flu season. At the time, the agency said in a statement that it had chosen not to provide vaccinations because of immigrants' "short-term" arrests and the complexity of the vaccination program.
But Arroyo stated that the government had made large-scale vaccinations before and administering large quantities of the vaccine to prevent the spread of the disease and prevent epidemics. She said it was cost-effective and less than the cost of hospitals and intensive care units for detainees, staff and residents after they became ill.
Cages and pens of CBP with chain-link fence with concrete floors and holding rooms are known to be very cold and often called dealers, which translates into a freezer or ice box from those held in them, which include infants.
Health care providers are protesting longer detention periods for migrants, warning that children in particular will face more serious health risks
Overcrowded conditions worsen the risk
for influenza vaccination, noted findings from overcrowded and unsanitary conditions at detention facilities by the DHS Inspector General's Office.
This report finds children in some CBP establishments did not have access to showers, did not always have changing facilities and had limited space for medical isolation. At a facility in El Paso, a cell intended for 35 detained 155 adult men with only one toilet and sink, NBC News reported.
The outbreak of influenza at the CBP McAllen facility affected nearly three dozen immigrants and had to suspend operations.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all persons over the age of 6 months receive the flu vaccine by the end of October for the current flu season. Even the Citizenship and Immigration Services Policy Guide, part of the Department of Homeland Security, notes the requirement for CDC immigrants to be vaccinated against influenza.
"As doctors, we have seen the effects of influenza infections the strongest, as well as the most vulnerable, and the results can be devastating," said the doctors.
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