The US and the UK have started rolling out their vaccination plans to put an end to the COVID19 pandemic. However, health experts are quite worried about prisoners who have not been included in the inoculation programs. Experts have said that the US Center for Disease and Prevention Control (CDC) has not made any decision about the prisoners’ vaccination yet; however, prison staff might be included in the second phase of vaccination allocation. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization in the UK has said that the top priority of the vaccination plan is to prevent further deaths and maintain healthcare systems. There has been no mention of prisoners in the committee’s recommendation, said the experts. However, more likely allocation plans will be the same for people who have been imprisoned. Both nations have given the first dose of the COVID19 vaccine to their citizens. Mass rollout of a safe and efficient vaccine might put an end to deadly pandemic.
An expert from a National Justice Reform organization called JustLeadershipUSA, DeAnna Hoskins has said that there has been a big dilemma about the vaccination of prisoners. Hoskins has said that people who have been jailed are still considered less human when it comes to access to vaccines. Health experts have warned about the risk of outbreaks among people who have been jailed for years. They have said these people are not able to follow precautionary measures such as social distancing inside correctional facilities. They are confined in small-shared spaces, said the experts. As per the report, jails in the US have become prime hotspots for COVID19. A study has shown that prisoners are four times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID19 as compared to the general population. They are two times more likely to lose their lives as well due to the disease compared to other people. The Advisory Committee on Vaccination at CDC has said that frontline workers, residents, and staff of long-term care facilities will be covered in Phase 1a of the vaccination plan. Whereas police and correction home officers will be included in phase 1b of the distribution plan.
Health experts have said that authorities need to understand where prisoners fit in the vaccination distribution plan in terms of the risk factor. As per the past studies, prisoners are in a high-risk category considering their underlying health conditions, age, and living standard. An analysis of prison settings has shown that correctional homes are at a higher risk of virus transmission. These prisons face numerous challenges in containing the outbreaks. Health researchers have said that their study shows that prisoners should be included in the first category to receive any COVID19 vaccine. Although CDC has advised that prisoners, who are at a higher risk of the disease should be vaccinated on priority; however, federal officials have said that correction home officers should be on priority to receive the vaccine. They have not said anything about prisoners receiving a small allocation of the vaccine. Many experts have said that if prisons are the biggest hotspots then it is advisable to vaccinate everyone from prison staff to inmates. Experts have said that mass vaccination will not benefit all the communities equally as African Americans are imprisoned disproportionately. Due to racial disparity in the US criminal justice system, Hispanic and Black Americans are three times more likely to die as compared to white Americans after adjusting their age. Experts from the non-profit firm Responsible Business Initiative for Justice have said that half a million people in the US have not been convicted of a crime and being held in jails for a long time. Overpopulated jails are going to be a massive threat to the ongoing vaccination plan, which has been put in place to put an end to the pandemic.