Should Jail Inmates, Workers Be High On Covid Vaccine List?

Dec 15, 2020

Spokane area jails and prisons are sites of Covid outbreaks. Should they be considered early vaccination sites?
Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Hospitals around the Northwest are welcoming shipments of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine this week. Some will begin administering it this week.

The top priority is health care workers at the highest risk of contracting the virus, especially those who work with Covid patients. Employees and residents of long-term care facilities are also in that first tier. Beyond that, it’s not clear who would be next.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the state is waiting for guidance from agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’re waiting to hear from those before we make our own decisions. Those decisions have not been made to date. When they are made, obviously we will share them with the public so people can have some sense of where they might be in this queue. These are not easy decisions, as you can imagine," Inslee sayd.

Some have suggested jails and prisons be included as part of any plan to vaccinate people in congregate care facilities, something Spokane County Jail Director Mike Sparber supports.

"I don’t know how they’re going to prioritize the list for that. I would certainly hope that the jails are a priority, at least because of the congregate setting, but I haven’t heard anything specifically about the vaccinations," he said.

The Airway Heights and Geiger Correctional Facilities are battling outbreaks. The county inmates who have tested positive at Geiger have been isolated in a separate building, away from the rest of the population.