Newsom backs guards in challenging vaccine mandates at prisons, warning of staff departures


With COVID-19 vaccine mandates growing across California, opponents in law enforcement are warning that their ranks would rather quit or retire than get their shots.

And the state’s prison guards and staff have an unusual ally: Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has otherwise been a champion of vaccines.

Newsom has joined the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in appealing a vaccination order for all prison employees. They are asking that a September ruling by U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar be paused pending appeals, saying that if it is implemented, numerous correctional officers will leave their jobs rather than submit to a COVID-19 vaccine.

That exodus, they argue, would plunge the state’s 34 prisons, which house some 99,000 inmates, into a crisis, including creating situations that could leave prisoners locked in their cells for much of the day.

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