BY ARTHUR HALL
More than 70 percent of the inmates in the island’s penal system have refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine despite repeated offers from the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) for them to be vaccinated.
The Jamaica Observer has confirmed that vaccines have been allocated for all adult prisoners, but several have indicated that they are not interested.
Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security Matthew Samuda, who has responsibility for the correctional services, yesterday told the Observer that just about 10 percent of the prisoners have so far been vaccinated.
“We have upcoming vaccination exercises in our facilities to try to increase our numbers; however, there is a significant level of hesitancy among the inmate population,” said Samuda.
“Efforts are underway through public education to reduce that hesitancy,” Samuda added.
He underscored that the DCS has secured enough vaccines for inmates at every one of Jamaica’s adult correctional institutions, and noted that any prisoner who wants to be vaccinated can get the jab in a minute.
Samuda also told the Observer that now that the Pfizer vaccine has become available for children 12 years and older in Jamaica, the DCS will be engaging the parents and guardians of the approximately 300 juveniles in its care to have them vaccinated.
Up to last Thursday, which is the last update on the DCS COVID-19 dashboard, just over 200 prison inmates had tested positive for the virus, with five fatalities, and 196 recovered.
Photo: Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Matthew Samuda