As of Thursday, Feb, 18, 2021, the Virginia Department of Corrections had administered COVID-19 vaccine to more than 50 percent of its inmates, far outpacing the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations seen elsewhere, according to an agency news release last week.
More than half of prison staff have also received the vaccine: “The DOC continues to get shots into arms at facilities across the state as they receive vaccines from the Virginia Department of Health,” the release stated.
DOC medical staff worked intently with VDH officials, following CDC guidelines, as vaccines received emergency approval. The agency then started a massive education campaign to help inmates make informed decisions about the vaccine, which was voluntary to receive, the release stated.
More than 13,000 inmates and more than 6,000 staff have received the first of two Moderna COVID-19 shots as of last week. All inmates getting the first shot are scheduled to receive the second shot four weeks later.
Approximately 3,000 had received their 2nd dose of the vaccine as of Feb. 18. The average daily inmate population in January was 23,811.
“Vaccinating DOC staff and inmates makes the whole community safer,” said Virginia Department of Corrections Director Harold Clarke in a statement. “Not only are our staff going into the community each day, but sometimes people forget that if an inmate gets very sick with COVID and has to be hospitalized, that inmate is occupying a community hospital bed. Inmates are a part of their local communities.”
Global consulting firm Deloitte is assisting DOC with strategy for vaccine deployment along with VDH and also has a weekly consult with the University of Virginia infectious disease team regarding vaccine rollout.
At Culpeper County’s Coffeewood Correctional Center, there were no COVID-19 positive inmates listed on Monday, Feb. 22.
Two staff were currently reported as positive with the virus that in total resulted in 674 positive cases in the local state prison that reported at least two outbreaks in 2020. The average daily population at Coffeewood as of in December was 870 men.