The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that flights under Operation Allies Welcome from staging areas, including bases in Europe and Qatar, would resume this week.
Fox News first reported that Fort McCoy Army Base in Wisconsin, one of a number of bases involved in processing Afghan refugees, had identified a case of the measles. Within days of that case, flights were shut down after officials confirmed four cases of measles among those arriving in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) describes measles as a “highly contagious” virus that can be spread by coughing, sneezing, and by people breathing contaminated air or touching infected surfaces and then their faces.
According to the CDC, Afghanistan has the seventh highest number of measles cases in the world.
DHS said that arriving Afghans would receive vaccines for MMR, chickenpox, polio, COVID-19 as well as other age-appropriate vaccines — along with other health screenings.
The Biden administration has been flying in tens of thousands of Afghans into the U.S., who it deems either “at risk” or who are identified as having helped the U.S. mission in some way. It has estimated that it will bring approximately 95,000 Afghans into the U.S., and has secured language from Congress that will divert $6.3 billion in funding to the evacuation effort, and a path to U.S. citizenship for those who are brought in any time until next September.
DHS highlighted what it called a “historic and nationwide vaccination campaign” to deliver vaccines to Afghan refugees who had already arrived in the U.S. and were staying at military bases around the country.
It said that as a result, more than 49,000 Afghans around the country are now vaccinated. The department said that “Afghan guests will remain at domestic military installations for at least 21 days after the MMR vaccine is administered” although in some cases those with “special medical needs” could be moved in more quickly.
In a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a group of 16 Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, argue that the security vetting procedures to clear Afghan evacuees “remain unclear and incomplete, and, unless changed, are insufficient to preserve the safety of the American homeland.”
Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.