Lancaster County Prison

File photo

A group of inmates at Lancaster County Prison will receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine today.

Nearly 200 inmates and staff signed up for the vaccination clinic, which will run all day in the prison’s gymnasium.

Vaccinate Lancaster is providing 200 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which will be administered by the prison’s medical provider, PrimeCare, to 183 inmates and seven staff.

“We’ve been asking inmates as they come in if they would like it,” Warden Cheryl Steberger said. “That’s just the first shot. If they stay here they will be guaranteed the second shot.”

A clinic to administer second doses will be held on May 25, but those who are released from jail between now and then will be provided information on how to acquire the second dose.

The prison’s population was 688 as of Monday, meaning roughly 26% of the inmate population will be get their first vaccination today. It is unclear how many inmates may have already gotten the shot, Steberger said.

Kelly Rhoads, an assistant regional manager with PrimeCare, said some of the vaccine hesitancy in the community has also made its way into the prison, but she was still optimistic about the number who had elected to receive the shot.

There are currently six positive cases of COVID-19 at the prison. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the prison has recorded xxx cases and just one death.

Steberger said the prison will continue to gauge inmate interest and may run another clinic later in the year.

State prisons

Prisons, because of their close quarters and shared dining and bathing facilities, have seen large numbers of COVID-19 cases over the past 14 months. Pennsylvania began offering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to inmates held in its prisons earlier this month.

Spotlight PA reported last week, citing state Department of Corrections data, that out of 37,245 people held inside the state’s two dozen facilities, 19,490 had received a vaccine as of April 21.

The vaccination rate was much lower for prison staff. Out of 15,852 state correctional staffers, only 3,133 were fully or partially vaccinated by that date. At facilities in Albion, Fayette, Pine Grove and Smithfield, 90% of staff or more remained unvaccinated.

Steberger said many of her staff have gotten the vaccine, but she did not have an exact figure as they have not been specifically asking staff if they received it.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, state-operated prisons have recorded more than 9,250 COVID-19 infections among incarcerated individuals, and more than 4,000 infections among staff. Total deaths at state facilities stand at 119 for inmates and 4 for staff.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misidentified the source of the vaccine doses. 

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