Within the same week that the Trump Administration released two new final rules that perpetuate cruelty to immigrant children and families, news broke that the administration is not vaccinating migrant children or families they are detaining, and has no plans to do so ahead of the next flu season. To date, at least three children held in detention centers at the border have died due, at least in part, to the flu. This must change, and it must change now: the next flu season will soon be upon us, and there is a safe and effective flu vaccine available that would minimize flu-related morbidity and mortality.
The unsanitary and cramped conditions in detention camps along the border expose children to infectious diseases, and the failure to vaccinate children will inevitably result in additional suffering and even death from preventable causes such as influenza. The U.S. death rate in children from the flu is normally about 1 in 600,000, but so far, three children among the 200,000 detainees have died in recent months.
First and foremost, children and families do not belong in these cage-like facilities with dangerous overcrowding, open toilets, and other inexcusable and immoral conditions. However, where adults or children are held, all people eligible for the flu shot should get one immediately upon arrival. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every season. To read more about vaccines and vaccine recommendations, check out the Children’s Defense Fund’s new vaccine brief.