Guantánamo

Gitmo select to gets first 300 swine flu vaccines

The Department of Health and Human Services, not the Pentagon, shipped 300 doses of swine flu vaccine to the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo for a select few among the 6,000 residents, a base spokesman said Tuesday. The special shipment was being held at the base hospital, and would be given to ``high-risk individuals on the Navy station,'' said Terence Peck, a public affairs officer. The first 300 was not meant for the 2,000 or so U.S. forces working at the prison camps ``nor for the prisoners,'' he added. Likely candidates included ``health care workers'' and ``medically high-risk people,'' Peck said, adding that officials would provide a better description of the dose recipients on Thursday following the Veterans Day holiday. More than half of the 6,000 people living on the 45-square-mile base in southeast Cuba are civilians. They include the 215 foreign men held as war on terror detainees, some 2,000 Jamaican and Filipino guest workers and the children and spouses of U.S. sailors and other residents who bring families to the remote base in southeast Cuba. The U.S. military touched off a controversy late last month by deciding to give the military on the base as well as the detainees their swine flu vaccines first. ``They get all the same quality medical care and treatment options that are provided to service members,'' said prison camps spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt. ``But they don't have to wait for appointments.'' Members of Congress seized on the notion that terror suspects might get vaccinated before the American public and protested to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs sought to quiet the firestorm by announcing Nov. 3 that no vaccines had arrived on the base. Tuesday, Peck said ``the batch that we received for the Naval station came from the Department of Health and Human Services.''

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