Detention centers at the border will not provide vaccines, despite the death from influenza and potential epidemics in the United States.

Failure to offer vaccines to border detainees could lead to more epidemics and deaths from influenza.

Failure to offer vaccines to border detainees could lead to more epidemics and deaths from influenza. (US Air Force photo / Airman 1st class Jonathan Koob /)

Customs and border patrols will not provide flu shots to migrants detained at border crossings, according to an official statement sent to CNBC this week. This decision was made even though at least three children died of the flu while they were being held by the agency and despite a May outbreak in a Texas detention center.

"This goes against basic public health practice," said Paul Spiegel, director of Johns Hopkins University's Center for Humanitarian Health. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that people over six months of age be vaccinated. In unhygienic and overcrowded conditions, such as in camps along the borders, influenza can spread from person to person more quickly than in less congested areas.

According to Sandra Quinn, director of the Department of Family Sciences at the School of Public Health of the University of Maryland, children in these facilities could be particularly vulnerable to the flu. "These kids are under tremendous stress. Their immune system might not be able to fight as they would if they were getting food, care and proper sleep, "she says.

People detained in detention centers should receive the same preventive health care as those used in the country, says Spiegel. In the United States, this would involve providing influenza vaccines as recommended by the CDC and taking extra precautions to offer vaccines to people who may be at extra risk of complications, such as children, the elderly, or people with diabetes. Other health problems. Not offering vaccines could lead to more outbreaks and deaths from influenza, which usually occur only infrequently, he said.

According to Quinn, the flu vaccine is a fundamental step that could be taken to protect the health of people living in these facilities and their surroundings. "If we do not take the simple and basic steps, you have to wonder if we are doing well in the big health problems."

However, despite the general condemnation of doctors by the CRP policy, it is not surprising that Roberto Potter, who studies criminal justice and public health at the University of Central Florida, is not vaccinated against the flu. In the United States, most prisons do not offer influenza vaccines, only to high-risk individuals, such as the elderly or those with other conditions. In the United States, medical care in all detention centers will generally be sufficient and will not be reactive, but reactive. "Preventive care is not a guarantee in any detention center," he says.

Despite guidelines from the Federal Bureau of Prisons that institutions should adhere to the CDC recommendations for influenza vaccination. Low access to vaccines in prisons and prisons, which also face prison overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and complex health needs, has led to regular epidemics, some of which can lead to death.

In the 2009 swine flu pandemic, for example, more than half of US prisons had received no dose of vaccine, according to a report from the CDC. In Maine, two correctional facilities with fewer than 10% of people vaccinated were affected by the flu in 2011. An influenza outbreak in 2018 in an Oregon prison has caused the death of a woman and only 18% of those detained at this facility had received the flu shot. During another outbreak of 2018, in two Texas jails, a spokesperson said the vaccines were only being offered to people considered high-risk, despite the CDC's recommendations, which are not enough.

Tyler Winkelman, a health policy researcher at the Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute, is studying criminal justice and health, says Tyler Winkelman. "I would say that the standards of some migrant reception centers are probably similar to those of other types of detention centers that we already have here," he said.

If CBP treats and frees migrants as they are supposed to do, Potter would expect to see outbreaks and similar flu circulations in facilities that we see in and around prisons, where the duration average stay is about 48 hours. "In prisons, people could come in with the flu virus, pass it on, and if you release sick people, it could spread to the community," he says. In a detention center for migrants whose influenza virus is circulating and not being treated adequately, people can enter and become ill and then carry the disease with them.

"If you do not pay attention to this, you put them at risk and you also put your staff at risk," says Potter. "And the staff brings these things home and puts their families at risk. And they put schools and other people in danger. "