COVID-19 vaccines offered to jail inmates

Mindy Ragan Wood, The Norman Transcript, Okla.
·2 min read

Mar. 19—Inmates at the Cleveland County Jail will have an opportunity to receive free Johnson & Johnson vaccines for COVID-19 next week.

Jail spokeswoman Joy Hampton said according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health guidelines, inmates qualify for the immunization, "under congregate groups in the vaccine phasing."

"We were notified when our inmates were eligible," she said. "A licensed medical provider experienced in administering the vaccine has agreed to administer vaccinations at the Cleveland County Detention Center."

Hampton did not provide the name of the medical provider.

Five inmates tested positive last week but there have been no jail deaths nor any hospitalizations related to the illness, Hampton said.

Jail procedures to address the influx of inmates during the pandemic include quarantine of all new detainees and testing within approximately 72 hours after intake.

"The average length of stay for new intakes runs 3-5 days, though the detention center does house some long-term inmates with serious charges," Hampton noted. "Inmates released before test results come back are notified if they test positive. Inmates who immediately bond out are unlikely to be subject to testing unless they display symptoms. Cleveland County Detention Center staff are committed to quality care, and inmates have medical care available 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week in-house or through hospitalization when needed for any illness. All precautions are taken to protect inmates and staff from COVID-19 infection, including PPE (personal protective equipment), disinfection protocol, and our ultraviolet disinfecting robot."

The vaccines are available at no cost to the county or the jail. It was not known how many inmates planned to receive the vaccine. Anyone in custody has the right to refuse medical treatment, including vaccines.

Mindy Wood covers City Hall news and notable court cases for The Transcript. Reach her at mwood@normantranscript.com or 405-416-4420.