Jan 30, 2021 - Health

Pentagon pauses plan to offer coronavirus vaccines to Guantánamo detainees

Guantanamo Bay
About 40 inmates are still being held at Guantánamo Bay. Photo: Maren Hennemuth/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Pentagon is pausing a plan to offer coronavirus vaccines to Guantánamo Bay detainees, Defense Department press secretary John Kirby said Saturday.

Driving the news: The Pentagon had planned to begin vaccinating detainees on a volunteer basis, several media outlets reported earlier this week. The plan angered some Republicans, who called it "inexcusable and un-American."

What he's saying: "No Guantanamo detainees have been vaccinated," Kirby tweeted.

  • "We’re pausing the plan to move forward, as we review force protection protocols. We remain committed to our obligations to keep our troops safe."

The big picture: It is unclear how many people at Guantánamo have been infected with COVID-19.

  • "Lack of vaccinations has been a major obstacle to resuming war crimes hearings at the base’s Camp Justice compound," including that of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other defendants accused of helping carry out the 9/11 attacks, the New York Times reported.
  • About 40 inmates are still being held at the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, military prison.
  • President Biden said during his campaign that he supported closing the prison, but he did not offer any concrete plans on how he would do so.
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