About 40% of people in the custody of California’s corrections system have received the COVID-19 vaccine, a figure praised by prison advocates who say that only a fraction of the state’s vaccine is needed to protect a population that’s one of the most vulnerable to the virus.
The vaccinations began Dec. 22 at the California Health Care Facility in Stockton, according to California Correctional Health Care Services. As of Monday, 37,588 incarcerated individuals and 24,959 staff members had received the vaccine. There are currently more than 94,000 people in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, or CDCR.
“We’re pleased at the pace that they have been going at and have constantly been urging the governor to continue that pace,” said Sara Norman, managing attorney for the Berkeley-based Prison Law Office. “Correction facilities have proven to be deadly. Like nursing homes, they are on top of the list of the deadliest places to be in this country.”
Across the state, 211 prisoners and 26 corrections staff members have died from complications related to COVID-19. Social distancing is difficult in crowded settings like prisons, and the virus has many chances to enter as staff come and go.
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