Some county jails are making alternative arrangements to get COVID-19 vaccines for inmates because of the slow pace of deliveries from the Maine Department of Corrections.
Only seven of 10 jails that responded to the Portland Press Herald had administered vaccines to people in custody. In the meantime, at least three jails have reported COVID-19 outbreaks in the last month.
Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said he has not received any information from the state about when the vaccine might arrive.
“We’ve been preparing ourselves and getting ready to get the vaccine, so we could get community immunity, whereby most of our corrections officers and most of our inmates would have the vaccine and that would mitigate any potential large outbreaks,” Joyce said. “And it hasn’t happened.”
Other counties have relied on community health partners to get vaccines. In Somerset and Aroostook counties, local hospitals got doses for jails. In Penobscot County, a community health center hosted clinics inside the jail.
Corrections officers became eligible for the vaccine in January, but the state veered from federal guidelines in delaying vaccinations for inmates.
Maine began offering vaccines to the oldest inmates in state prisons last month. As of April 9, 18 percent of inmates in state prisons had been vaccinated.