Prison Guards Lag Behind Prisoners With COVID-19 Vaccine

Prison guards are vaccinated from COVID 19 at a lower rate than incarcerated people.

Prison Guards Lag Behind Prisoners With COVID-19 Vaccine

People inside of prisons are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than those of us on the outside. And it’s pretty much undisputed at this point that COVID-19 outbreaks have overwhelmed prison systems. These overwhelming outbreaks have translated into unnecessary prisoner and staff deaths. But outbreaks in the communities surrounding prisons and more long-lasting consequences. Despite those consequences, prison guards aren’t getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Consider this analysis published last week by HealthLeaders last week. Less than a quarter of Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections employees received the COVID-19 vaccine by mid-June. That number represents a significant increase from the previously reported seven percent. But it pales in comparison to the more than 75% of Pennsylvania’s incarcerated people who received the vaccine.

Pennsylvania is just one example, but it’s a representative one. According to nationwide data compiled by the Prison Policy Initiative, less than half of prison staff nationwide have done vaccinated. The HealthLeaders’ article cites additional examples, too.

Making matters worse, the failure of prison guards to get the COVID-19 vaccine comes at a time when prison officials are already worried about staff shortages. Union leaders are publicly claiming prisons need more funding. Yet, at least for now, staff shortages due to COVID-19 seem almost inevitable unless the vaccination rate for prison guards goes up.

Stay tuned to Interrogating Justice and its work to keep up to date with the latest in criminal justice reform news.

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