Via The New York Times: Immigration Detention Center in Arizona Failed to Contain Measles Outbreak. Excerpt and then a comment:
Health officials in Arizona are pressing federal officials for better cooperation after an outbreak of measles at an immigration detention center was prolonged because some employees were slow to be vaccinated.
The outbreak started in late May in the detention center in Eloy, Ariz., and has grown to 22 cases, currently the largest episode in the country of the disease, which was once eradicated in the United States. The cases include nine employees of the facility, which is overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency.
“What was surprising was the failure by the organizations that run the facility to make sure their staff was vaccinated,” said Thomas Schryer, the director of public health for Pinal County, home of the center. “The lingering issue has been the staff passing the illness among each other and going out into the community.”
The facility, 65 miles southeast of Phoenix, holds about 1,250 immigrants from many countries, both men and women, who are awaiting court proceedings or deportation. They include migrants who have come in recent months from three violence-torn countries in Central America. The center is supervised by the federal agency but operated by a private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, which has more than 300 employees.
The first measles case was identified on May 25. Arizona health officials said they had not yet been able to identify the first person to become ill so they cannot confirm whether it was an immigrant.
“It is very difficult to say where this came from,” said Dr. Cara Christ, the director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. All the immigrants in the center were vaccinated if they needed it in the first days after the outbreak, officials from the prison company said.
When the outbreak was not contained and spread to staff members, county and state health officials asked the company and federal officials to provide information showing their employees were being vaccinated or had proof of earlier vaccinations.
The prison company moved quickly to comply, Arizona health officials said.
“It was something we took really seriously and we have been pleased with the cooperation from our employees,” a CCA spokesman, Jonathan Burns, said.
But some employees of the immigration agency, which is known as ICE, did not come forward with proof of vaccinations, and the agency said it could not legally require them to do it. The immigration agency employs about 100 people at the center.
This is the kind of thing that gives outsourcing to the private sector such a bad name.