WXXI AM News

Vaccination rate in NY prisons at 46%; all inmates offered the vaccine

Jul 30, 2021

Auburn Correctional Facility.
Credit Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News file photo

All 32,000 people incarcerated in New York state prisons have been offered the COVID-19 vaccine and, to date, 46% have been vaccinated.

According to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, there have been vaccine clinics at each of the state's more than 50 prisons.

In an emailed statement, DOCCS said 15,195 vaccines have been administered to date and additional vaccine clinics have been scheduled. The vaccination rate among incarcerated people, at 46%, is much lower than the statewide average of 62%.

To encourage vaccination among inmates, DOCCS said it's offering incentives, ranging from care packages from the prison commissary to barbecues.

Before the pandemic, some inmates were offered time with their families through the state's Family Reunion Program. A DOCCS official said that the program is resuming in September, but will only be available to inmates who are vaccinated.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week that, starting in September, all state employees will either need to be vaccinated or get tested weekly for COVID.

It's unclear how many correctional officers and staff are currently vaccinated, though DOCCS said 8,148 staff have been administered the vaccine at DOCCS facilities.

Since the start of the pandemic, 6,609 people incarcerated in state prisons have been sick with COVID-19, about 20% of the state's prison population. Thirty-five inmates and nine people on parole have died of COVID-19.

Among prison staff, 5,188 have tested positive since last March, and eight have died of COVID.