This week Florida extended COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 and older But statewide, more than 70,000 people still do not have access to the vaccine These men and women are state prisoners

More than half of the country has opened up vaccine eligibility, dramatically expanding the ability of most Americans to get vaccinated, regardless of age or medical condition But inside prisons, it’s a different story: prisoners, who are not free to be vaccinated, still do not have access to all

Nationwide, less than 20% of state and federal prisoners have been vaccinated, according to data collected by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press

In Colorado, about 48% of all state prisoners have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the State Department of Corrections This population was originally to receive special immunization priority from the state, but Gov Jared Polis later promised that the state would not give prisoners such a priority, and they were then moved to the bottom of the listing

To date, 29 Colorado prisoners have been confirmed to have died from COVID-19, while nearly 9,000 – well over half of the overall prison population currently – have tested positive at some point

In some states, prisoners and lawyers have resorted to lawsuits to gain access And even when they are eligible, they do not receive significant training on the vaccine

And it’s not just the prisoners Public health experts widely agree that people who live and work in correctional facilities face an increased risk of contracting and dying from the coronavirus since the pandemic reached prisons for the first time in March 2020, around 3 in 10 inmates tested positive and 2,500 died Prisons are often overcrowded, with limited access to health care and protective equipment, and populations inside are more likely to have pre-existing health problems

“This is a public health strategy,” said Jaimie Meyer, associate professor of medicine and public health at Yale University “If you want to see the pandemic end, you have to vaccinate people in the places where there are the largest groups and the most cases”

In some establishments, basic supplies such as soap and toilet paper are scarce and the wearing of masks is not consistently enforced by both prisoners and guards Prisoners spend time in common areas and open bar cells do little to contain the virus Prisoners describe entire dormitories suffering from symptoms of COVID-19

Some detainees are reluctant to report symptoms for fear of being placed in solitary confinement and not receiving appropriate care Others report days of waiting for medical care, sometimes withheld or provided only with care. ‘aspirin

And vaccine rollout has been uneven, despite advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that states should prioritize prison staff and those held in jails and prisons As of the end of March, Arkansas and Florida had yet to start vaccinating prisoners, while a few states say they have offered vaccination to all adults in their prisons. Eight states did not report the number of vaccinated prisoners

In some states, vaccine supply for prisons has been constrained by infrastructure and political demands As more and more vaccines begin to become available for prison systems, prison officials, prison officials, Public health experts and prisoner advocates say inmates are largely reluctant to receive the vaccine

According to the CDC, 40% of adults in the United States have received at least one vaccine vaccine, and President Joe Biden has promised that all Americans will be eligible for the vaccination by April 19 But vaccination rates behind bars are still lower than the general population in two-thirds of states

The four states that say they have offered the vaccine to all adults in their state prisons – Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Virginia – have seen more prisoners taking it, with an average of around 70% Meyer said it was a positive sign but likely to be lower in many other states

In Georgia, around 700 prisoners had been vaccinated as of March 30, according to Department of Prison Affairs spokesperson Joan Heath That number, about 15% of the state’s prison population is expected to increase by mid-April, when the agency plans to receive 2,000 doses per week.

“Our goal is to make sure that every offender in our custody is offered and given a COVID vaccine,” she said, adding that the state is asking anyone with “friends or loved ones incarcerated, to encourage them to accept the vaccine when it is offered “

Corrections officials in Maine said they had just started vaccinating “age-eligible residents,” with 125 prisoners, or about 7% of the prison population, vaccinated at the end of the month. March

Prisoners in Tennessee had to wait months before they could begin receiving the life-saving dose after an influential state advisory group determined that their inoculation too early could result in a “public relations nightmare” and This decision came as some of the largest clusters of coronavirus in the United States were inside Tennessee jails, with hundreds of active cases at multiple facilities

Top Tennessee health officials finally announced in March that some members of the prison population could get vaccinated if they qualified by age or suffered from certain health conditions

To date, about a third of prisoners in Tennessee have tested positive for the virus since the epidemic began to spread More than 40 have died

As of April 5, more than 6,900 prisoners, out of an estimated 19,400 inmates in the state, had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine As of Monday, Tennessee began allowing all residents of 16 years and older to receive the vaccine, meaning that remaining state prisoners would be eligible

In some states, prisoners and lawyers have resorted to lawsuits to speed up the pace of vaccinations In February, a federal judge ordered Oregon officials to offer the vaccine to all prisoners in the State, what the State says it has now done Washington state prisoners filed a similar complaint in late March, demanding additional protection from correctional staff who refused the vaccine Last week, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that the state must immunize all people incarcerated in jails and prisons

Texas vaccinated its first 600 prisoners only because of an accident After a freezing problem at the Darrington unit left hundreds of doses unrefrigerated for correctional officers, officials first offered the vaccine to staff and then to high-risk prisoners to prevent wasted doses

Vaccine availability isn’t the only factor correctional officials must grapple with to get gunshots fired Carrie Shipp, whose 21-year-old son Matthew is incarcerated in Ruben M The Torres Unit in Texas said her son decided not to get the vaccine out of fear and mistrust of the prison medical staff Shipp’s son encouraged her and his daughter to get vaccinated, but he does not want to get the vaccine himself

“It’s not like he doesn’t believe in science, he’s just afraid of what they might do to him, what they might give him,” Shipp said. “To have your child, someone you took care of, being afraid of something that would protect them… I will lose sleep over it “

Prisoners

World News – AU – As states develop vaccines, prisoners still lack access

Source: https://www.denverpost.com/2021/04/07/covid-vaccines-prisoners-access/