Advocate says prioritizing prison staff for COVID-19 vaccine will protect inmates

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Vaccinations against COVID-19 have already begun at a Northern California prison facility for inmates with special medical needs. 

International Union of Operating Engineers, which represents maintenance and system employees, confirmed to FOX40 that 65 inmates and employees at the California Health Care Facility, Stockton volunteered to get the vaccine. 

The LA Times also reported employees and high-risk inmates at two other facilities in Chowchilla and Vacaville are expected to receive the vaccine. 

“That is not needed for the incarcerated because they are in a box,” said Angela Cadena, with We Are Their Voices. 

Cadena, an advocate for inmates, said staff should be prioritized. 

“They are coming out to the community. So not only are they infecting our incarcerated, they are infecting our communities,” Cadena said. “If the staff is free of COVID, then the incarcerated are safe.”

The California Correctional Peace Officers’ Association also told FOX40 they believe prison staff and inmates should be moved to the top of the list to get vaccinated. 

One local IUOE representative told FOX40 the focus will be people at high risk of becoming infected. 

The California Correctional Health Care Services released a statement about the push to vaccinate in state facilities. 

Our collective goal is to immunize as many people as possible when they are eligible, and to protect the safety and wellness of the people that work and live in California’s prisons.

According to the state’s data, 11 employees and more than 110 inmates have died from the virus. 

Cardena said they can’t afford anymore deaths. 

“These are people who did not have death sentences,” Cadena said. “Did they commit the crime? Yes. Should they pay the price? Absolutely. Should they be condemned to death? That wasn’t their sentence.”

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