Aug 30, 2022 - News

No vax, no school for Afghan refugees in Des Moines

An illustration of pencils and a syringe.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

At least 23 Afghan children were unable to start school in the Des Moines metro last week because they were missing required immunizations, Polk County Health Department spokesperson Nola Aigner Davis told Axios Monday.

Why it matters: Case management support services for Afghan refugees generally ends after three months.

  • The situations underscore why more time is needed to help families assimilate, Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa (RACI) director Stephanie Moris told Axios yesterday.

Catch up fast: The U.S. ended its involvement in a 20-year conflict in Afghanistan last year, leading to the Taliban seizing control of the country.

  • More than 120,000 U.S. citizens and Afghan allies were evacuated.
  • At least 700 Afghan refugees resettled in central Iowa.

State of play: Agencies are generally required to help their refugee clients meet self-sufficiency levels in 90 days.

  • That's far below the two years allowed for and paid by the federal government for refugees in the 1970s and 1980s, Moris said.

What's happening: School nurses last week flagged those with deficient vaccination statuses, Aigner Davis said.

  • Broadlawns Medical Center was informed on Thursday and immunized almost all the children the next day, Katie Wengert, a hospital spokesperson told Axios on Monday.

Worthy of your time: Moris' guest column published last month in the Des Moines Register outlining the need for extended refugee support services.


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