WASHINGTON – The Pentagon on Saturday suspended plans to offer coronavirus vaccines to the 40 prisoners of war in Guantánamo Bay next week after outcry over whether the Department of Defense brought terror suspects before the American people.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the department, announced the reversal on Twitter, noting that none of the detainees were arrested had been vaccinated. Delay, he said, would allow officials “to assess the impact our troops have on protecting the armed forces and that will always be the first priority”.
The 40 detainees include Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is accused of being the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and six men who were approved for release by a government agency.
The New York Times’ announcement Thursday of its plan to administer vaccines to Guantanamo prisoners sparked a sharp backlash, especially given the slow start of vaccine rollout in the US.
Most states have started vaccinating older adults, but people across the country expressed frustration with vaccine shortages, long lines, and canceled appointments.
California Representative Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, intervened on Twitter Saturday to criticize the Pentagon’s original proposal. “President Biden told us he had a plan to defeat the virus on day one.” he wrote. “He just never told us it would be to vaccinate terrorists in front of most Americans.”
The Ministry of Defense announced the suspension a few hours later.
Approximately 1,500 soldiers are serving in the internment camp in Cuba, most of whom are members of the National Guard who arrived during the pandemic and spent their first two weeks there in individual quarantine. However, the Southern Command that oversees the prison has not yet disclosed how many of them have been offered the vaccine and how many have agreed to receive it.
Dr. Terry Adirim, the Pentagon’s deputy assistant secretary of defense for health, signed a memo on Wednesday approving vaccination of inmates. She is a representative of the Biden Administration who served as a senior health officer in the Department of Defense since July 2016.
Several hundred doses of the Moderna vaccine first arrived at the base on January 7, and medical staff received the first shots. It is not known if among the 6,000 residents that include seafarers and their families, teachers and contract workers, enough doses have reached the base to vaccinate anyone who seeks them. The original plan was to offer vaccines to prisoners starting Monday. You should be given information over the weekend to help you decide whether to accept the recordings.
The lack of vaccinations was a major obstacle to the resumption of pre-trial hearings in the 9/11 case, especially since virtually everyone but the prisoners from the United States commute to the court and the prisoners, lawyers, judges and other court staff were not a priority .
Currently more than 150 million people – almost half of the population – can be vaccinated. But each state makes the final decision on who goes first. The country’s 21 million healthcare workers and three million long-term care residents were the first to qualify. In mid-January, federal officials asked all states to open eligibility to anyone over the age of 65 and adults of all ages with conditions that are at high risk of becoming seriously ill or dying of Covid-19. Adults in the general population are at the end of the line. If federal and state health authorities can remove bottlenecks in the distribution of vaccines, everyone over the age of 16 is eligible as early as spring or early summer. The vaccine has not been approved in children, although studies are ongoing. It can take months before a vaccine is available to anyone under the age of 16. Please visit your state health website for the latest information about vaccination guidelines in your area
You shouldn’t have to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine, despite being asked for insurance information. If you don’t have insurance, you should still get the vaccine for free. Congress passed law this spring banning insurers from applying cost-sharing such as a co-payment or deductible. It consisted of additional safeguards that forbade pharmacies, doctors, and hospitals from charging patients, including uninsured patients. Even so, health experts fear that patients will end up in loopholes that make them prone to surprise bills. This could be the case for people who are charged a doctor’s visit fee with their vaccine, or for Americans who have certain types of health insurance that are not covered by the new regulations. If you received your vaccine from a doctor’s office or emergency clinic, talk to them about possible hidden costs. To make sure you don’t get a surprise invoice, it is best to get your vaccine from a Department of Health vaccination center or local pharmacy as soon as the shots become more widely available.
That is to be determined. It is possible that Covid-19 vaccinations will become an annual event just like the flu vaccination. Or the vaccine may last longer than a year. We’ll have to wait and see how permanent the protection from the vaccines is. To determine this, researchers will track down vaccinated people to look for “breakthrough cases” – those people who get Covid-19 despite being vaccinated. This is a sign of a weakening of protection and gives researchers an indication of how long the vaccine will last. They will also monitor the levels of antibodies and T cells in the blood of vaccinated individuals to see if and when a booster shot might be needed. It is conceivable that people might need boosters every few months, once a year, or just every few years. It’s just a matter of waiting for the data.
The Pentagon is preparing to hold its first indictment in Guantánamo since 2014 on February 22nd. Under the original scheme, the defendants in this case – Encep Nurjaman, known as Hambali; Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep; and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin – would have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated before appearing in court in more than 17 years of US imprisonment.
Hambali, an Indonesian, is being held in Guantánamo as a former leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian extremist group that became a member of Al Qaeda prior to the 9/11 attacks. The other two men, Malaysians, are accused of being Mr. Hambali’s accomplices in the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali, At least 11 people were killed and at least 80 injured in the bomb attack on the Jakarta Marriott Hotel in 2003.
Her case had been inactive for years. Then, one day after President Biden’s inauguration, a senior Pentagon official in charge of military commissions during the Trump administration cleared the case for trial.
The Biden government has not yet announced its policy in Guantánamo, despite Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III telling Congress during his confirmation hearing that the government would not add new inmates to the site and would seek closure.