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Coronavirus: 10 inmates at Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatchewan receive vaccine

Click to play video '10 inmates at Sask. Regional Psychiatric Centre receive coronavirus vaccine' 10 inmates at Sask. Regional Psychiatric Centre receive coronavirus vaccine
WATCH: 40 Canadian inmates received the Moderna vaccine Friday – Jan 8, 2021

As Canadian inmates start to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, some organizations believe changes to the delivery method could help keep more people safe.

According to Correction Service Canada (CSC), it has been working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and have received doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccinations start in Saskatchewan’s far north

“At this time, as per the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) guidelines, CSC will be vaccinating approximately 600 older offenders prioritized by age and underlying medical conditions,” CSC said in an emailed statement.

Clinics to administer the vaccine were held at four different federal institutions Friday including Ontario’s Regional Treatment Centre, Quebec’s Drummond Institution, Nova Scotia’s Springhill Institution and Saskatchewan’s Regional Psychiatric Centre (RPC).

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Ten vaccines were administered at each facility and CSC said planning for other clinics is underway.

Read more: Inmates stage hunger strike, call for Saskatchewan corrections minister’s resignation

Meanwhile, some advocates said there are inmates struggling to trust the vaccination process.

“It’s an essential thing to get but they are [wondering if they’re] going to be getting the same vaccine that the rest of the community is going to get or is this something that you know, maybe some pharmaceutical company wants to try something new,” Beyond Prison Walls Canada founder Sherri Maier said.

Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Vice-Chief Kim Beaudin said these fears stem from things that have happened in the past. He suggests having someone inmates can trust explain the process, using the example of an elder for Indigenous inmates.

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“If they can put somebody in front of that and get that message across to the prisoners that it’s OK, that would probably be better than what they’re doing right now,” Beaudin said.

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Read more: Regina Correctional Centre COVID-19 outbreak concerning to families of inmates

Beaudin will be meeting with government officials next week to address these issues, and will also try to move other policy issues forward.

Click to play video 'Elderly and at-risk inmates to receive COVID-19 vaccine on Friday' Elderly and at-risk inmates to receive COVID-19 vaccine on Friday
Elderly and at-risk inmates to receive COVID-19 vaccine on Friday – Jan 6, 2021

Some, like Canada’s opposition leader Erin O’Toole, have shown resistance to inmates receiving vaccines in the first phase of delivery. However, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers national president Jeff Wilkins said safety needs to be put first.

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As of right now, correctional officers aren’t included in the first phase of the vaccine rollout. Wilkins believes both inmates and officers should be a priority.

Read more: Immune but infectious: Can someone vaccinated against COVID-19 still spread the virus?

“We’ve had over 260 of our members test positive for COVID-19 and out of a population of about 7,400 so that’s a big ratio,” Wilkins said.

“We’re first responders in the institution, we’re the health care, we’re the police, we’re the firefighters and we’re the paramedics. When we’re intervening, we need the protection that’s available.”

Wilkins said he will continue talking to politicians to try to get people within the organization vaccinated sooner, but has not been given any indication it will change.

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