RI correctional officers, inmates getting vaccinated despite hesitancy in other states


NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Coronavirus infection rates in jails are more than three times higher than the general public.

Despite that, data shows some potential vaccine hesitancy among prison guards and other public safety officials.

Dr. Justin Berk, Medical Director for the R.I. Department of Corrections (DOC), told 12 News that staff and inmates in the state are lining up to get the vaccine.

According to the DOC, 70% of staff and 73% of inmates in the state’s facilities have signed up to be vaccinated.

A spokesperson for the DOC said they have other corrections facilities from across the country calling them, and asking what they are doing to get people to sign up.

“Through our educational campaigning, through our partnership with the RIPCO Union, and through a lot of outreach efforts, we’ve had pretty good success in getting people vaccinated.” Berk said.

Berk added that they’ve put out videos and information packets, have done education sessions, and have two nurses addressing concerns among inmates and staff. They also encouraged people to talk to their health care providers and community leaders to learn more.

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