High-risk inmates in California receive COVID-19 vaccines

A medical unit at the Central Valley State Prison has received some of the first coronavirus vaccines to be given to detainees and employees.

The Stockton Health Care Facility in Stockton is home to inmates with special medical needs. At least 150 of the 2,400 detainees are positive for COVID-19.

Steve Crouch, director of public employees for the International Union of Operational Engineers, which represents maintenance and systems employees, said 65 detainees and employees volunteered to receive the vaccine on Tuesday. Crouch said employees who were vaccinated are in high-risk positions dealing with potentially infected detainees.

Two other prisons – Central California Women’s Center in Chowchilla and California’s Vacaville Medical Center – will also begin vaccinating high-risk employees and inmates, according to California Correctional Health Care Services, which provides medical care to inmates. .

“The supply of the vaccine is limited and will be distributed in accordance with state and federal guidelines,” the agency said in a statement. “Our first focus will be on people at high risk of becoming infected or seriously ill with COVID-19.”

The initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine status are intended for healthcare workers and residents of long-term care institutions. Then the state intends to vaccinate key workers – a broad category of potential 12 million people.

According to a corrective source familiar with the distribution process, penitentiary medical institutions have so far received 18,600 doses of Moderna vaccine and 3,259 Pfizer BioNTech vaccines. Pfizer BioNTech’s first California allocation totaled approximately 327,000 doses. The governor said he expects to receive an additional 393,000 doses of that vaccine and 672,000 doses of the modern one in the near future.

More than 10,000 detainees are registered as infected out of the approximately 91,000 detainees. More than 34,000 have tested positive since March and 112 detainees have died, according to CDCR. About 3,366 employees are infected with more than 10,000 patients this year.

The Lancaster State Prison in California has the highest case load, with 938 inmates and 225 employees who tested positive.

Robert Davis, who leads the correctional union there, said officers are still guarding detainees with severe COVID-19 symptoms in the same hospital rooms. The rules, he said, require a guard in the room. Davis said the union was informed that all employees who want the vaccine will receive a dose by the end of January.

CDCR is also fighting staffing tests because the virus has grown statewide. Starting Monday, any employee who refuses to undergo COVID-19 mandatory testing will be sent home free of charge. In addition, an employee who refuses testing will be subject to formal discipline.