A plan to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to the detainee population in Guantánamo was paused on Saturday. 

Pentagon Press Secretary, John Kirby, tweeted that they will be reviewing “force protection protocols” and pausing any decisions to vaccinate Guantánamo detainees.

Originally, Pentagon spokesman Mike Howard said Terry Adirim, the Pentagon’s principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, signed the memo authorizing the vaccination of the detainees. 

Guantanamo Bay currently has 6,000 residents. Working U.S. troops make up 1,500 of the residents, with 40 being detainees. Earlier this month, the U.S. Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay announced that it received its initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and already began distributing them. The first to receive the vaccination were 100 prison staff members.  

The vaccinations will be provided to the prisoners on a voluntary basis because of the Pentagons policy regarding consent of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. Many of the prisoners’ court hearings and trials have been halted due to the pandemic. 

The detainees’ defense teams have been notified and will communicate with their clients about their decision. It is unclear whether any of them will agree to the vaccination. 

If any of the prisoners were to accept, it is still unclear when and if they will receive their vaccines. 

Written ByJose Villegas

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