All Federal Inmates To Be Offered COVID Vaccine By Mid-May : NPR

Michael Carvajal, the federal prison director, spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images Hide caption

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Bill Clark / CQ Appeal, Inc. via Getty Images

Michael Carvajal, the federal prison director, spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Bill Clark / CQ Appeal, Inc. via Getty Images

According to Michael Carvajal, the federal prison director, all federal prison inmates will have the opportunity to receive a vaccine until mid-May.

Vaccines have already been made available to all federal prison staff, he said in a hearing on Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

More than 40,000 people incarcerated in federal prisons have received both doses of the vaccine, the bureau said, making up about a third of those in BOP custody. Almost 18,000 federal prison staff were fully vaccinated.

About 66% of federal residents have accepted invitations to be vaccinated, Carvajal said. That number is slightly higher than the 61% of Americans who say they’ve already had a vaccine or are eager to get one the latest survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Amid concerns about the hesitation of the vaccine among law enforcement officialsCarvajal said just over half of BOP employees accepted vaccine invitations. He added that this number does not apply to employees who have looked for vaccines elsewhere.

“We encourage employees to adopt it, but also because it is not mandatory, we respect their right to choose,” he said.

Around 126,000 people are currently incarcerated in BOP-operated facilities, the lowest number in 20 years. The population was already shrinking before 2020, a trend accelerated by the pandemic as pressure increased to release certain inmates to domestic custody to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

For people in prison, the pandemic was a nightmare. People in prisons and prisons across the country since March last year Conditions reported that was terribly conducive to the spread of the virus: large numbers of people in common areas; Lack of basic PPE including masks and soap; symptomatic people remain unisolated and without medical care.

Even when prisons and jails put in place basic security measures like masks and tests, infection and death rates among incarcerated people are still higher than the general population. According to the Marshall Project Almost 400,000 prisoners were infected with Covid-19, a rate of about 1 in 5. More than 2500 have died.

The BOP was criticized – and brought to justice – Last year on the treatment of the pandemic in federal institutions.

At Thursday’s hearing, Carvajal defended the Bureau’s work.

“We’ve handled pandemics very well in the Bureau of Prisons in the past, OK? COVID was different. It’s extremely contagious. It went very quickly,” he said.

People incarcerated in federal prisons make up only about 10% of those incarcerated in America. The vast majority of inmates are in state and local prisons.

For the people in these facilities, access to vaccines is much more diverse. Although the CDC has recommended that incarcerated individuals along with a few other vulnerable groups be prioritized for the vaccine, states can set their own priorities, and not all have chosen to prioritize inmates.

Massachusetts included incarcerated individuals in its first phase of vaccine distribution and began vaccinating inmates and staff together in January. The Oregon Department of Corrections reported it was offering vaccines to all 13,200 people detained by March 10th.

In Florida, however, prison inmates were only given vaccines in early April. As of this week, about half of the Florida counties surveyed had not yet started vaccinating people held in county-run prisons. according to an investigation by WFTS in Tampa.

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