Guantanamo Bay detainees will be receiving the H1N1 vaccine, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday, even though White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said minutes earlier that the vaccine is not "on the way."
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Gibbs was correct in saying the vaccine is not currently on its way, but clarified that it is scheduled to be at the naval base on Cuba by the end of November.
"The department has an obligation to care for persons in its custody and we take that seriously," Whitman told Fox News. "There is a limited supply of this vaccine so we have prioritized our population."
Whitman said the vaccine would go first to deployed forces, then active duty, then health care workers, then detainees and then non-American contractors working for the Department of Defense.
Gibbs was less forthcoming when asked about earlier reports in which military officials said the vaccine would soon be on its way. Following some complaints that the detainees could be receiving the treatment before other Americans, Gibbs seemed to suggest that there were no plans to vaccinate the 215 detainees remaining in the facility.
"There is no vaccine in Guantanamo. There is no vaccine on the way to Guantanamo," Gibbs said. "I don't know what the Pentagon said. ... There wasn't any there and there wasn't any on the way."
Prison populations are considered high-risk for flu viruses. Army Maj. James Crabtree, a spokesman for the U.S. jail facility in southeast Cuba, said Sunday that detainees will be vaccinated "entirely on a voluntary basis," and that a segment of the population will refuse, either due to anxiety about a shot or out of a "distrust of our motivations."
Fox News' Justin Fishel and Steve Centanni contributed to this report.