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Pallone Calls on Public Health Officials to Urge CBP to Provide Flu Vaccine to Migrant Families

Aug 26, 2019
Press Release
CBP’s Refusal to Provide Vaccinations is Especially Concerning Since Reports Indicate At Least Three Children Have Already Died from Flu Complications in CBP Custody

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent a letter to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Surgeon General of the United States, and Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today voicing deep concerns about recent reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is not currently providing, nor has plans to provide ahead of the upcoming flu season, the traditional influenza vaccine to migrant children, adults, and families in CBP custody.  

According to CDC, everyone six months of age and older should receive a flu vaccine every season.  CDC has also emphasized that flu vaccinations are particularly important for those at high risk of serious complications from the flu, such as young children and adults who are close contacts of those children.  Complications from the flu can lead to other serious health implications, as well as hospitalization and death, and these potential dangers are only heightened for young children. 

“As the nation’s voices for the protection of public health, it is your duty to speak out against this misguided decision,” Pallone wrote to the three Administration health officials.  “I am calling on you to implore CBP to provide influenza vaccinations to all detained individuals, but most especially young children, in order to best protect them from influenza and prevent unnecessary illnesses, hospitalizations, or additional deaths ahead of this upcoming flu season.”

It is especially concerning that CBP is failing to provide available flu vaccinations, even in light of public reports that at least three children have died in recent months as a result of complications from the flu after entering the United States. 

“This is unconscionable and can be prevented,” Pallone continued in his letter.  “Given the recent announcement that the Department of Homeland Security will seek to hold migrant families in federal custody for indefinite periods of time, which I oppose, combined with CBP’s intention to not provide flu vaccinations to those detained, I hope you share in my alarm that this is not a prudent public health strategy for preventing influenza.”   

Pallone’s letter to the three Administration health officials is available HERE