Mass. correctional facilities preparing to administer COVID-19 vaccine to inmates, staff

BOSTON (WHDH) - The Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association says they are preparing to vaccinate inmates and staff at correctional facilities across the state beginning Monday.

Correctional facilities are part of the vaccination plan for congregate care settings, in accordance with the timeline set by the Baker-Polito Administration and the Department of Public Health in consultation with the Massachusetts Vaccine Advisory Group.

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“We have been working diligently in collaboration with the Baker Administration, the Department of Public Health, the Vaccine Advisory Group and our resident infectious disease specialist Dr. Alysse Wurcel to insure that we are fully prepared for this crucial next step,” said newly-elected President of the MSA and Suffolk County Sheriff, Steven W. Tompkins. “Our mandate is for the safe custody and care of those remanded to us by the courts, but we also have a critical responsibility for the health and safety of the men and women who deliver on that mandate. These vaccinations protect both our incarcerated populations and the people who oversee their safety, which ultimately protects the health and safety of the general public.”

Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi, the new vice president of the MSA, said he is hopeful that the rollout of the vaccine to congregate care settings in Massachusetts will mark a true turning point in the pandemic.

“I think it’s important that correctional staff and the people in our care and custody are offered the COVID vaccine at the same time, not only from a medical standpoint to maximize immunity, but to build trust,” Cocchi said. “The vaccine is the subject of some skepticism, but I am encouraged by the science. And I’m hopeful that our staff and the people whose health and safety we are responsible for will continue to be accepting of it through education and seeing others around them be inoculated.”

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Nearly 1,000 health care professionals and COVID-facing staff have been vaccinated so far within the 14 sheriffs’ offices as part of Phase One of the state’s vaccination timeline.

While the FDA has issued emergency use authorizations for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, MSA says correctional facilities have been receiving vaccines from Cambridge-based Moderna.

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