BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A committee of more than two dozen health care providers and advocates is calling for the immediate vaccination of the state’s prison inmates.
WCAX-TV reports the memo from the Covid-19 Vaccine Implementation Advisory Committee to Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, dated Monday, says inmates have little or no ability to protect themselves or demand better conditions.
The memo comes as the Department of Corrections continues to cope with an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport, the state’s largest prison.
Gov. Phil Scott says inmates are vaccinated when they fit within the state’s guidelines of age or people with certain high-risk medical conditions. All inmates will be eligible for vaccination by the end of April.
“There are dozens and dozens of groups, sectors, and populations who have requested prioritization. A case can be made for each," said Scott spokesperson Jason Maulucci. "But with a limited supply, everyone can’t be at the front of the line, so preservation of life must be the top priority.”
On Wednesday, the Department of Corrections reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 at the Newport prison, 10 among inmates and two among staff.
There are currently 40 positive cases among inmates and six among the staff at the prison.
Since the Newport outbreak was detected with testing done on Feb. 23, 135 inmates have been cleared to leave isolation. The prison has been on full lock-down since Feb. 25.
The Vermont Department of Health on Thursday reported 139 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to nearly 17,250.
There were 21 people hospitalized, including three in intensive care.
The state reported 217 people have died of COVID-19, unchanged from Wednesday.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 102.71 on March 2 to 105 on March 16.
The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Vermont did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 0.86 on March 2 to 0.86 on March 16.