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There are currently around 1.4 million people held in state and federal prisons in the United States and almost 1 million held in local jails and detention centers.
Massachusetts revealed its three-phase distribution plan for the coronavirus vaccine. Inmates are included in phase one, along with healthcare workers, first responders, and individuals in homeless shelters. The second phase includes individuals at high-risk, such as adults over 65 or those with underlying conditions, school teachers, and sanitation and public work employees. Phase three will offer the vaccine to the general public.
Charlie Baker, the governor of Massachusetts, said “Our plan for the first round of vaccine shipments maximizes life-saving care for our most vulnerable residents and protects health care workers, first responders and workers doing COVID-facing work.”
According to North Carolina’s distribution plan, inmates will be offered the vaccine in Phase 1B. Phase 1A includes “healthcare workers and medical first responders who are at high risk of exposure based on work duties or who are vital to the initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution.” Phase 1B includes “residents in long-term care settings, including nursing homes, adult care homes, family care homes, group homes, and homes serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; people who have two or more of the chronic conditions identified by ACIP/CDC as increased risk of COVID disease severity; people over 65 years who live in congregate settings (i.e., migrant farm camps, prisons/jails, homeless shelters); and staff of congregate living settings.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation reported on the CDC’s guidance on vaccine distribution:
“On December 1, 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), issued an initial recommendation, adopted by the CDC director, that health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities should be the first to be offered a COVID-19 vaccine once it is authorized or approved by the FDA (See Appendix A).
The ACIP recommendation recognizes that health care workers, who are at higher risk of exposure to people with COVID-19, are essential for preserving health care capacity during the pandemic. Further, it recognizes that long-term care residents are at high risk of serious illness if infected with the virus and account for 40% of all COVID-19 deaths. States have the authority to make their own allocation decisions, although most will likely follow the ACIP guidelines for the initial priority groups.”