Published on: Tuesday, April 20, 2021

People held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center can now begin getting the COVID-19 vaccine, a senior defense official told The Associated Press on Monday, months after a plan to inoculate them was scuttled over outrage that many Americans weren’t eligible to receive the shots (article available here).

The new timing coincides with President Joe Biden’s deadline for states to make the vaccines more widely available across the U.S. Beginning Monday, anyone 16 and older qualifies to sign up and get in a virtual line to be vaccinated. Previous coverage available here.

The defense official said all 40 men held at the Navy base in Cuba will be offered the vaccination to comply with legal requirements regarding the treatment of prisoners and to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading. Strict quarantine procedures had already sharply curtailed activities at the base and halted legal proceedings for prisoners facing war crime trials, including the men charged in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.

At Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, 56% of the total population of about 5,700 people, a mix of military personnel, contractors and dependents, has been vaccinated, and the shot is available to any adult who wants it.

At least some of the men held at the base may be skeptical of the vaccine, given their treatment over the years by the U.S. government.