I-Team: Nevada inmates no longer receive COVID-19 vaccine priority

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36 inmates, 3 staffers die from coronavirus

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Eleven-thousand Nevada prison inmates will no longer be vaccinated before vulnerable adults, the state’s new vaccine playbook indicates.

Last month, an older version of the playbook said corrections staff would be among the first to get the COVID-19 vaccine, followed by inmates, the I-Team reported. Staff were listed in the first tier of vaccinations; inmates in the second.

The new playbook, released Monday, shows corrections staff among the first to be vaccinated in the essential workforce lane. Inmates will be vaccinated by the same priority as the general population.

“It was more appropriate to not to include that particular group of people in an occupational group,” Candace McDaniel of the state’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health said Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance was also changed to include occupational groups and ages, rather than vulnerable groups. Last month, state officials said they were following federal protocol for who gets the vaccine first. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices had listed prisoners among those living in congregate, meaning they are susceptible to getting sick.

In total, 36 prisoners and three staff members have died within the past four months. In all, 3,407 COVID-19 cases have been reported in state prisons. Of those, 2,588 have been inmates, and 819 have been staffers. About 500 new cases have been reported in the past month.

According to a recent report from Johns Hopkins University and cited by the CDC, incarcerated individuals are at a high risk for infection and transmission.

Nevada Department of Corrections officials have not responded to multiple requests for comment. Several families have reached out to the I-Team about conditions inside state prisons, saying inmates are being kept isolated in inhumane conditions.

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