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.
“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).
Ten vaccines were administered at each facility and CSC said planning for other clinics is underway.
Meanwhile, some advocates said there are inmates struggling to trust the vaccination process.
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.
“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.
Beaudin will be meeting with government officials next week to address these issues, and will also try to move other policy issues forward.
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.
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.
“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.View link »