Oregon inmates prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine

MEDFORD, Ore. – A federal judge orders the State of Oregon to immediately offer state prison inmates the COVID-19 vaccine. Now adults in custody, also known as AIC, are being moved to the front of the line. State officials are planning on offering inmates the vaccine, as soon as next week.

“We are planning to vaccinate 5,000 AIC’s in the first week and 5,000 AIC’s the following week,” said Oregon Dept. of Corrections, Chief Medical Dir. Dr. Warren Roberts.

Dr. Warren Roberts said they want to prioritize high-risk inmates who want the vaccine. Getting the vaccine is optional.

“All AIC’s who opt-out will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment with a healthcare provider to answer any questions,” said Dr. Roberts.

Dr. Roberts said they’ll continue to educate employees and inmates, as they hope everyone accepts the offer.

Prisons statewide have made headlines, as more outbreaks happen in the congregate living facility. Forty-two inmates have died.

Director of Corrections, Colette Peters said the vaccines will only help mitigate COVID-19 in the buildings.

“While prisons are not designed for social distancing that was the most aggressive thing that we could do to ensure lesser exposure to this deadly virus,” said Peters.

But human rights activists say providing the vaccine isn’t enough.

“There is nothing to suggest that rolling out vaccines will not also be utterly mismanaged and continue to put imprisoned people’s lives at risk, especially considering the complete lack of trust prisoners have in these institutions to care for their wellbeing,” said Scout Zabell, an inmate advocate.

While the state has released some inmates, advocates are asking for a mass release,  so jails and prisons can better follow social distancing guidelines.

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Katie Streit
NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university's political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster's Foundation. Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]
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