Pentagon halting Guantanamo Bay COVID vaccine plan after backlash

"It's the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard," said one 9/11 hero of the plan.

Published: January 30, 2021 12:55pm

Updated: January 30, 2021 3:12pm

The Pentagon announced on Saturday that it was temporarily halting a plan to vaccinate prisoners at the U.S. Military Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba after major backlash to the proposal. 

The government had reportedly planned to offer the coronavirus vaccine to the prisoners in the coming weeks, allowing them to jump ahead of the vast majority of Americans who have not yet received the medicine. 

The plan was blasted by numerous commentators, including Americans associated with relief efforts during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, such as former New York City Fire Commissioner Tom Van Essen, who in the New York Post called the Pentagon's decision "theater of the absurd."

"It's the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard," former Ground Zero demolition supervisor John Feal told the paper.

Under the initial plan, the prisoners, had they accepted the vaccine, would have moved ahead of the tens of millions of Americans who have not yet received it. A little less than 30 million of the shots have already been distributed throughout the U.S.

Among the prisoners in Guantanamo include former high-ranking Al Qaeda official Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and alleged September 11 facilitator Ramzi bin al-Shibh.

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