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North Central Florida county jails vaccinate inmates against COVID-19

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 5:50 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -A number of North Central Florida county jails have started vaccine programs for inmates.

“We would like to see everybody that’s not there for 24 hour period be able to get the vaccine,” said Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, Art Forgey.

At the Alachua County jail, inmates were first educated on the various COVID-19 vaccines. Then, inmates were chosen to receive a vaccine by age and the length of their stay at the jail. The health department provides their doses.

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“But working with the health department and getting the few doses we’ve been able to get, we’ve been able to start with age and work down the chart to folks that may potentially be in there for some time awaiting trial,” said Forgey.

So far, 15 incarcerated people at the Alachua County jail have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Although, it’s not the only county jail in North Central Florida making sure inmates can get a vaccine.

“So it’s great to see that the effort was so successful,” said Chief Medical Officer of Heart of Florida Health Center Dr. Tabatha Downey. She oversees vaccine distribution efforts like the partnership with Marion County jail.

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The group first vaccinated 43 inmates age 60 and over and on Wednesday, vaccinated more than 280 inmates.

“Families of inmates to reach out to their family members right now in the Marion County jail to take the vaccine because you know inmates in any correctional facility are 4 times more likely than people in the community to even be infected with COVID-19,” said Chief Health Administrator for Inmate Health, Msria Torres.

A Heart of Florida Health team is vaccinating the final pod at the Marion County jail. The Bradford County jail provided COVID-19 vaccine shots to any inmate who wanted one on Thursday as well.

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