Northampton Co. Prison: All vendors must be vaxxed amid rise in cases; shots remain optional for staff

Written by on September 15, 2021

Northampton Co. Prison: All vendors must be vaxxed amid rise in cases; shots remain optional for staff

By Tyler Pratt

September 15, 2021

In this Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018 photo, barbed wire lines the top of a wall at the deactivated House of Correction in Philadelphia. Philadelphia, which has used previous John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grants to reduce it’s jail population by about 36 percent, will receive $4 million to continue its work. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Northampton County Prison is now requiring vaccinations for all outside company employees, since, after months of low COVID-19 case numbers, infections in the jail are rising. 

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But the county hasn’t mandated its own staff be vaccinated. More than half of the county’s own 210 corrections employees have not received their shots. 

To emphasize the importance of the vaccine, County Executive Lamont McClure said staff are being offered a one-time bonus of $500 dollars each to get the shots.

The jail’s corrections director reported on Sept. 14 there were nearly 20 cases among the inmate population and seven cases among county staff and vendor employees. That’s up from almost none in the jail earlier in September. 

McClure issued an order Sept. 15 saying any outside worker, such as those who work in health care or in the kitchens, must now be fully vaccinated in order to enter the facility unless they have a valid religious or medical exemption.

A representative for the jail’s health care provider, Prime Care Medical, said they are worried about the rising case numbers. However, they are also concerned about the possible detrimental impact to services such as mental health if employees are not allowed inside.

Northampton County officials say they have run multiple vaccination clinics for inmates and put shots into hundreds of arms. But less than half of the current inmate population is vaccinated. 

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