by Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
November 3, 2009
St. Paul, Minn. — A Minnesota congressman is concerned about reports that detainees at Guantanamo Bay will soon get the H1N1 flu vaccine.
Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen on Tuesday sent letters to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of the Army John McHugh, saying he opposes any plans to give detainees vaccinations while Minnesota and the rest of the nation waits for the vaccine to become more widely available.
The Associated Press reported this week that the vaccine will arrive this month at Guantanamo, despite complaints that American civilians should have priority. Several other members of Congress have expressed opposition to the plan.
Paulsen told officials in his letter about H1N1 hospitalizations that have occurred in Minnesota, and how Park Nicollet Health Services recently had to shut down a vaccine appointment line after being overwhelmed with callers.
“I certainly understand the underlying problem being an overall lack of vaccines nationwide, but I was extremely disappointed to learn that detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay will soon be offered H1N1 vaccination, while high-risk priority groups such as pregnant women and children in Minnesota and across the nation continue to wait for this vaccine,” Paulsen wrote.
Paulsen hopes to get a response from government and military officials.