Senior officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing deliberations about the eviction. The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Pentagon did not comment. The National Security Council referred Politico to the statements of Deputy White House Press Secretary Karen Jean-Pierre.
Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday that the government would suspend flights “for at least an additional seven days”. But senior administration officials who spoke to Politico said they were preparing to suspend flights for an extended period of time, citing the time it would take to vaccinate thousands of people and build immunity.
“Currently, all arriving Afghans should have a measles vaccine as a requirement for humanitarian surveillance and critical immunizations,” Jean-Pierre said on Monday.
Measles is highly contagious, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 90 percent of unvaccinated people contract the virus. Immunization rates in Afghanistan are remarkably low.
Although top health officials are concerned that more people may contract the virus, there are currently no reported cases at the Ramstein base, according to a senior administrative official familiar with the matter. This person said it was not clear if there were other cases in Qatar.
According to the World Health Organization, a measles outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases that are “temporarily associated” or have a rash lasting seven to 23 days. An outbreak is considered terminated if there have been no associated cases for 46 days since the start of the last case.
The delay will add to the time evacuees must spend on US military bases, where crowded conditions are getting worse every week, according to two other people helping with the US evacuation response overseas.
The US is also screening Afghan evacuees for Covid-19 at its national and international bases. FEMA has also established an extensive vaccination center for refugees at Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC.
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