As vaccination eligibility expands to all Mississippians, the state has also become a leader in mass vaccinations among its prison population. According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, over 3,000 prisoners at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, the state’s most populated prison, will be vaccinated by the end of the day.
MDOC received 3,500 doses from the Mississippi Department of Health, to be administered by healthcare provider VitalCore, which enabled the agency to mass inoculate all of CMCF without regard to age or medical condition.
A news release states that MDOC Commissioner Burl Cain and VitalCore Senior VP Dr. Raman Singh are inoculating Mississippi’s three state prisons first, one prison at a time, to have a full complement of medical staff and security to vaccinate quickly on a massive scale.
“We are the first (state) to do this on a massive scale to offer every inmate and not to talk. There are many who are talking but we are the first one who is walking the talk,” Dr. Singh said.
CMCF Superintendent Ronald King told inmates he was first in line to get vaccinated to stress the safety of the shot.
“We talked to the guys and ladies upfront and let them know, ‘Hey, if y’all want to get back to normal and get activities going, visitations, increase our religious, academic and vocational programs, let’s do this. And we let them know we got the vaccinations ourselves and told them, ‘Hey guys we took the vaccinations ourselves and everything’s working out fine.’ We want everybody to take the vaccination.”
While other states have had as high as 40% of inmates refusing the vaccine, Mississippi has only experienced about a 1% refusal. After each shot, Commissioner Cain offered chocolate chip cookies to each inmate. By protecting inmates with the vaccines, MDOC is planning to reopen family visitations as soon as the second shots are given at their respective prisons. The Mississippi State Prison at Parchman will be vaccinated next week and South Mississippi Correctional the following week.
MDOC says if you are planning to visit someone in prison when visitation resumes, you will not be required to show proof you’ve been vaccinated but temperature checks will be administered for everyone’s protection.
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