Only a quarter of Lehigh Valley inmates opt to receive COVID vaccines

Written by on May 21, 2021

 Only a quarter of Lehigh Valley inmates opt to receive COVID vaccines

By Tyler Pratt

May 21, 2021

Photo by Craig Lloyd from Pexels

Inmates in Lehigh Valley jails have received COVID-19 vaccines after months of delay. A WLVR report last month found state changes to the vaccine rollout failed to prioritize county jail populations

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But when they became available, only a fraction of inmates opted for the shots. 

Northampton County Prison vaccinated 118 inmates with the Johnson & Johnson one-shot. 

That’s about a quarter of the population. 

Thomas Weber, chief executive officer of Prime Care Medical, the jail’s health care provider,  says that number matches up with what he’s seen in other states. 

“We see a lot of our patients are skeptical about the government. They have concerns whether they are being used as experiments,” Weber says.

That factor, combined with mental health and substance abuse issues in the jail, he says, means many inmates don’t want the vaccines. He says he sees it with flu shots too. 

The Lehigh County Jail also used the J&J shot, but officials say they only inoculated 20% of the population. 

The jail’s director says inmates were given educational materials about the vaccine, and if there is enough interest, the county will run another clinic. 

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