San Diego, CA–All inmates at San Diego County Jails will receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said.
Every inmate became eligible to receive the shots under new California Department of Public Health guidelines that started on March 15. To date, 427 inmates have been vaccinated.
The Sheriff’s Department had already been vaccinating inmates as part of the age 65 and greater group that was authorized under that tier. This was done when vaccinations were made available. 27 inmates were vaccinated in this group.
Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary. To date, 221 inmates have refused the vaccine.
“We will continue our vaccine education program by answering questions or concerns about the shots. We will still offer the vaccine to those who initially declined a dose,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency supplies the Sheriff’s Department with the vaccine. As of March 19, allocated supply from the health agency has been exhausted. More vaccines will be sent to the department when they become available.
The Sheriff’s Department has administered the Moderna vaccine requiring two doses. Inmates who are released prior to getting their second injection are provided information on how to receive their second dose. Inmates vaccinated under the new tier received the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine.
Despite the availability of the vaccine, the department said COVID-19 protocols will continue in the jails. All inmates are asked to submit to a COVID-19 test at the time they are booked into jail. This test cannot be forced. Inmates are educated on the benefits of testing but approximately half of them have refused a test at the time of booking. As part of a long-standing mitigation protocol, any new inmate is placed in quarantine for seven days and monitored for symptoms before being placed with the general population.