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RSAT Forum > Monthly Discussion > May 2021: COVID-19 Vaccinations among Detainees and Correctional Staff View modes: 
skeller - 5/10/2021 3:15:48 PM
May 2021: COVID-19 Vaccinations among Detainees and Correctional Staff

Question: What should I tell detainees who tell me that they will not be vaccinated for COVID-19?


Answer 1: First jail staff should SHOW them by getting vaccinated themselves.  Reports find too many correctional staffs are not being vaccinated even though they are higher risk than most for the infection. Last December and January, 37 prisons systems began offing vaccines to staff. So far more than 106,000 received at least one dose, but in some states up to half of correctional employees are not signing up for vaccines. This reluctance undermines the health of staff, their families, and incarcerated people and the rest of the community. More than 388,00 incarcerated people and over 100,000 staff have contracted the coronavirus over the last year.  That comes to one in three is Michigan, Kansas, and Arizona according to the Marshall project. We know 2,500 inmates have died and almost 200 prison and jail employees. Specifically, you should tell RSAT participants that Health officials have released an update that individuals with substance use disorders (SUD) are at a heightened risk for serious complications from COVID-19. As the CDC advises, “Having a substance use disorder (such as alcohol, opioid, or cocaine use disorder) can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.” This is because chronic substance use can harm or weaken the body, including the immune system, and make an individual more vulnerable to infection. The effect of certain types of substances used may present greater risks as well, particularly opioids, alcohol, nicotine, methamphetamines present greater risks for patients to develop severe illness from COVID-19. If people cannot get vaccinated in the prison or jail, you should advise people that when they get out, there are people who can help them get vaccinated.  Those in need of vaccinations can submit a support request form and a navigator from the Addiction Policy Forum and the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts will reach out to assist them.  They can also call the helpline at 833-301-HELP and a navigator will help. Hours of operation are 9am - 5pm ET, Monday through Friday. Text 833-301-HELP and navigators will provide resources and support. Historically, there are reasons why people, especially Black people, rightly mistrust being experimented on.  In the past, people were subject to dangerous medical research without their consent.  However, the current COVID vaccines are not experimental and millions of people around the world have been injected, saving their lives and health and the lives and health of their families and those they come into contact with.  For everyone’s sake, good luck encouraging everyone to be vaccinated.

Answer 2: Here is the latest from the Center for Disease COntrol and Prevention (CDC) on why drug users need to be vaccinated: COVID-19 and People Who Use Drugs or Have Substance Use Disorder.