Is swine flu vaccine going to Guantanamo? Define “going”
The White House denied it on Tuesday, emphatically, but also carefully — saying there is no vaccine at the U.S. military prison, or going there … now.
“There is no vaccine in Guantanamo and there’s no vaccine on the way to Guantanamo,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said when queried about the burgeoning controversy.
“I don’t know what the Pentagon said. I know in asking yesterday whether or not there was any vaccine there or whether there was any vaccine that was on its way, the answer to both those questions was no,” he said.
The H1N1 swine flu virus has killed at least 1,000 Americans and infected an estimated 5 million.
Many U.S. states and cities say they have received about one-tenth as much H1N1 vaccine as they had expected to get by now. Given the shortage, the vaccine is being saved for high-risk groups, such as very young children and people with underlying health conditions. In many areas even they have been turned away as clinics have run short of the flu jab.
After Gibbs’ remarks, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said H1N1 vaccines would go to Guantanamo detainees, but only after they’d been offered to every active-duty soldier, deployed U.S. contractors and civilians, and civilians working for the Department of Defense.
“Because there are limitations on supplies of H1N1 vaccine, we’ve established priorities… But we do have an obligation to provide appropriate medical care to everyone in our custody,” he said.
Prison populations are considered at high risk for flu. What do you think of the controversy?
Photo credit: Nurse vaccinates clinic employee with Pandemrix, a vaccine against H1N1 influenza at UKE clinic in Hamburg Oct. 26, REUTERS/Christian Charisius; and A view of a common area inside Camp IV at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay Aug. 4, REUTERS/Deborah Gembara.