Rhode Island ACI reports relatively high number of inmates, staff receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The ability of the Rhode Island ACI to dole out COVID-19 vaccine quickly has gotten the attention of prisons out of state.

The Department of Corrections (D0C) says as of Feb. 2, 895 inmates at the prison had received their first dose and 248 inmates are fully vaccinated.

At the end of last week, the DOC says 919 staff members had received vaccines, with 119 being fully vaccinated.

Medical Director for the DOC Dr. Justin Berk said there is a low number of inmates refusing the vaccine, because of how many positive cases the prison has reported.

“We saw this in November that once the virus really takes hold it can go very, very quickly, across a large population,” he said.

Berk said he understands why some might be frustrated that inmates received vaccines before others, but that it is all part of the state’s plan to stop community spread of the virus.

“No jail is an island,” he said. “Everyone that comes in and out of a jail is going home to their families, is going home to their community.”

The medical director says people incarcerated are three times more likely to die of COVID-19, because of the congregate care setting they live in and the medical histories they walk into the prison with.

“Some of these people who are older than 75 have significant co-morbidities,” he said.

This is why the ACI has been administering the vaccines as quickly as possible, according to Berk, it’s fastest being 400 doses in one day.

The medical director expects the majority of inmates to be completely vaccinated by the end of the month, with the first shots for staff members scheduled to be completed by next week.

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