Justice Lab Joins Call to Give Correctional Staff and Incarcerated People Equal and Urgent COVID-19 Vaccine Priority

December 16, 2020

The Justice Lab joined top university experts in calling on the CDC and states to prioritize incarcerated people and correctional staff in early-phase distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.

COVID Phase1 Community Call

The Justice Lab joined experts from some of the nation’s top universities in issuing a white paper advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) and states to prioritize incarcerated people and correctional staff alike in the same early phase distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ current recommendations on vaccine distribution do not give incarcerated people any priority, while designating correctional staff as essential workers, who will receive vaccines in the next phase of vaccine distribution.  As of this week, only eleven states and one territory (Puerto Rico) have included incarcerated populations as part of their Phase 1 vaccine distribution.

Specifically, the white paper recommends that the CDC and states: 

  1. Prioritize vaccine distribution to all incarcerated people at the same stage as correctional officers (essential workers/first responders) or higher;
  2. Create vaccine distribution and implementation plans developed by medical and public health professionals that are specific to correctional systems;
  3. Include correctional leadership and justice-involved individuals in state advisory vaccine groups committees; and
  4. Identify policies and methods to effectively fund vaccine distribution and administration in correctional systems and following release.

The other university research centers making this recommendation include: The SEICHE Center at Yale University, The Center for Health and Justice Transformation at the Miriam Hospital and Brown University, The COVID Prison Project, The Re-Envisioning Health and Justice Lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights and The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, The UCLA COVID-19 Behind Bars Project, and Amend at UCSF

Read the full white paper HERE.