DOC to vaccinate inmates and detainees by end of April

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Department of Corrections (PNC file photo)

After the Vaccine and Antiviral Prioritization Policy Committee expanded the vaccine eligibility to prisoners in early March, DOC reported that inmates and detainees will receive COVID-19 vaccines by the end of April.

Major Antone Aguon, DOC spokesperson, says that DOC’s nurses will begin training next week to properly administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

He says that the department will vaccinate detainees with the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

That vaccine is a one-time shot given in the muscle of the upper arm.

Aguon stated that in the meantime, the department will conduct a survey for inmates to see who wants to get vaccinated.

Presently, there are 579 individuals confined at DOC.

He says the department’s goal is to get all inmates vaccinated but it is their choice whether they get the shot or not.

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“I mean we would like to get everyone vaccinated but the reality is we know that there are going to be some who are not going to choose to take it and we can’t force them. Getting vaccinated is still a medical decision on their part and they have the right to refuse to be vaccinated. We can’t hold them down and force them,” Aguon said.

He anticipates that a little more than half of the prisoners will choose to get vaccinated.

Major Aguon further states that the vaccination logistics are still being worked on.

He says that their vaccination procedure will be slow because inmates will need to be observed after they get their shot.

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“Because unlike COVID testing, when we vaccinate the inmates there’s got to be a period where they are under medical observation, you know, the 15 to 30 minutes they have to sit in an area and be observed just in case they experience any kind of reactions to the vaccine,” Aguon said.

He added that the department will address that issue by vaccinating one unit at a time.

Aguon is confident that the department is ready to get its inmates vaccinated as soon as all logistics have been laid out.

He hopes to get all prisoners vaccinated by June.

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