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Letter: Detainee vaccine policy likely to turn deadly

Like many, I am planning to receive my annual flu vaccine within the next few weeks.  The Centers for Disease Control estimated that just over 61,000 Americans died and another 600,000 were hospitalized during last year’s flu season. The year before was even worse with over 80,000 deaths and just under a million people admitted to hospitals. On average, nearly 75% of the children who die from the flu each year were never vaccinated.

In August the Trump administration announced that flu vaccines would not be given to anyone in detention centers on our southern border. The administration’s reasons for this policy were that it would be too complex a procedure to carry out and that the detainees would only be in the facilities temporarily.  It is ironic that at virtually the same time the Trump administration also announced that it was establishing a new policy of holding migrants in detention indefinitely.

I contacted Senator Thom Tillis’ office with the hope that he might work to offer some protection to the migrants, who will obviously be especially susceptible to any communicable diseases while being locked away in large numbers. Instead, his response was a recitation of the Trump administration’s aforementioned talking points. Tillis also pointed out that he had already supported legislation which provided $4.59 billion for a myriad of needs along our southern border. There was no mention of vaccines.

Of all of the Trump administration’s vindictive policies, this one seems especially cruel and its consequences will almost inevitably turn deadly.  The migrants held in U.S. detention are our responsibility and we are all accountable for what happens to them.

— Keith Townsend

Mt. Ulla

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