Sen. Marshall Calls on Administration to Remain Vigilant and Protect Americans from Infectious Diseases as they Admit Evacuees into the U.S.

(Washington, D.C., September 17, 2021) – Today, on the heels of Afghanistan evacuees arriving in the U.S. with measles and the Administration announcing 490 Afghan refugees are slated to be resettled in Kansas, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. – a longtime Rotarian –called on the Administration to double down on efforts to ensure refugees are properly tested and held for diseases such as COVID-19 and tuberculosis as well as vaccinated from vaccine-preventable infectious diseases prior to being admitted into our country and its territories. Vaccine preventable infectious diseases include measles, polio, mumps, rubella, and others.

“While we must show compassion to evacuees, we must ensure they are properly vaccinated against and tested for deadly infectious diseases that we have worked tirelessly to eradicate from the U.S.,” said Senator Marshall. “I applaud the Administration’s efforts thus far to administer necessary vaccines and testing to evacuees but encourage our CDC and DHS teams to remain ever vigilant as they continue to process those entering our country. Besides measles and COVID-19, I am particularly concerned about polio, as Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two remaining polio endemic countries in the world.”


Rotary International, which Senator Marshall served as a Rotary District Governor of, has been working for more than 35 years to eradicate polio around the world. Through the organization’s efforts, polio cases have been reduced by 99.9 percent since the project was started in the Philippines in 1979, after the U.S. had successfully eradicated it across the nation. The physical and human assets developed to eradicate polio have contributed to stronger overall immunization and health systems. They have increased global capacity to respond to public health threats, such as Ebola, Zika, and COVID-19. Only two countries currently have transmission of wild polio: Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to the Lancet, in 2020, 56 polio cases were reported in Afghanistan, and in 2019 there were 29. UNICEF estimates that 50 million children in Afghanistan and Pakistan missed out on vaccines in 2020 because of the COVID-19 disruption in immunizations. Furthermore, Humanitarian efforts to eradicate polio in Afghanistan have been met with violence. In June, five polio vaccination workers were killed and more than a dozen injured by extremist groups.

Since joining Rotary in 1991, Senator Marshall has passionately supported the organization’s efforts to protect people against polio. As a Congressman and now Senator, he has worked hard to ensure Congress continues the fight as well. More recently, he joined a bipartisan group of senators to request robust funding for the polio eradication activities at the CDC and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Associated Press: Virginia and Wisconsin report measles cases among refugees U.S. departure from Afghanistan imperils global quest to eradicate polio

CNBC: Afghan refugees currently housed on U.S. army bases are being administered vaccines, and the Biden administration plans to soon begin vaccinating Afghans for measles, mumps and rubella while they are still overseas.