Vaccines could start for inmates in March

Written by on February 1, 2021

Vaccines could start for inmates in March

Brett Sholtis / Transforming Health & WITF

February 1, 2021

The correctional complex on State Road in Philadelphia. Photo| Emma Lee / WITF

Prisons face many of the same risks for spreading the coronavirus as nursing homes. 

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But Transforming Health reports, while nursing home workers and residents were among the first people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, corrections officers and inmates are at the back of the line. 

John Eckenrode, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, says when the Wolf Administration expanded who is presently eligible for the vaccine to include people over 65 as well as younger people with certain risk factors, he says prison guards were left out of the loop — at a time when COVID-19 is raging at several correctional facilities. 

“It just makes no sense,” Eckenrode says, “It makes absolutely no sense why we would be pushed to the back.’

Corrections employees are usually the ones bringing the coronavirus into the prisons — and if they are inoculated, inmates would be better protected, he says 

Claire Shubik-Richards, executive director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society agrees. 

“There’s a reason people in nursing homes, staff at nursing homes, are some of the first people to have access to the vaccine,” Shubik-Richards says, “And it should be the same or similar for people who work in prisons.”  

Shubik-Richard says many incarcerated people qualify for the vaccine.  

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections says vaccines have not been made available to inmates who qualify under eligibility guidelines but that vaccines may be made available to inmates as early as March. 


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