COVID Vaccine Implications For Inmates & Corrections Officers
Written by: Beth Boone, Esq.
As COVID vaccines become more widely available and distributed across the United States, state and local corrections facilities are receiving vaccines according to their jurisdiction’s vaccine plan. Sometimes that means varying prioritization based on facility size, geography, local logistics and the number of available medical staff.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worked with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to develop a vaccine implementation plan that includes optimized vaccine planning, sub-prioritization within prison populations for things like high-risk underlying health conditions, and other considerations.
The CDC advises that jurisdictions try to vaccinate workers and incarcerated/detained people at the same time because they are often in close proximity and have a shared risk of disease.
Some facilities may need to implement a multi-modal vaccine administration strategy. For example, in addition to having medical staff directly vaccinate staff and inmates, some facilities may need to supplement those efforts with mobile vaccination teams from local health departments, contracted correctional health care providers, commercial pharmacies or traveling nurse groups.
Another complexity in vaccinating correctional officers, staff and people in custody is dispelling myths, rumors and misinformation about how prison officials are handling many aspects of the COVID response including vaccinations. Like with the general population outside of prison walls, some people are skeptical about the vaccine and declining to get it.
Correctional facility administrators, correctional officers, health care providers and other professionals should have detailed plans in place to follow jurisdictional guidelines and rollout strategies for vaccine administration
Including an attorney who specializes in correctional health care litigation defense as part of that planning team helps ensure that your staff is educated on policies, protocols and best practices they can do to minimize risk and keep themselves and inmates healthy and safe.