WEDNESDAY, Aug. 4, 2021 (HealthDay News) — COVID-19 vaccines will be offered to migrants in U.S. custody at the Mexican border, federal government officials said Tuesday.
The Department of Homeland Security will provide the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to migrants soon after they cross into the United States, two agency officials with knowledge of the plan told the Washington Post.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plan, which has not been finalized, the Post said.
Vaccines will be offered to migrants likely to be released into the United States pending a court hearing and also to those facing deportation, Homeland Security officials told the Post.
However, migrants who are quickly sent back to Mexico would not be offered a vaccine, at least during the initial phase, the Post reported.
In July, 210,000 migrants crossed into the United States along the southern border, the highest one-month total in 21 years, according to preliminary government estimates.
Those familiar with the new vaccination plan said it makes sense for the government to provide shots to people who are already in U.S. custody, reducing the risk that they could spread the virus in their home countries or in the United States.
With the U.S. government holding far more vaccine doses than it can distribute domestically, the Biden administration has ramped up global vaccine donations, and officials said Tuesday they have sent more than 110 million doses to at least 60 nations, the Post reported.
Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said the plan to expand vaccinations along the border was “a great idea.”
“If they have people under their care and consider part of caring for them making sure they’re immune to the virus, I think that’s responsible,” Offit said. “The advantage of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is that its single dose is for populations who are transient and less likely to get that second dose, so it makes abundant sense.”
About 20,000 detainees have received vaccines so far, according to the latest government figures. More than 1,000 immigrants were infected with COVID-19 as of Aug. 1, among more than 22,500 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, the Post reported.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on COVID vaccines.
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