COVID-19 Vaccine

California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) and the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) are working to provide a vaccine for COVID-19. In alignment with California Department of Public Health (CDPH) priority guidelines, vaccination administration started on December 22, 2020 at California Health Care Facility (CHCF). While early vaccination efforts focused on frontline staff and patients in long-term/skilled nursing beds, we have expanded to all institution staff and yesterday we received further approval to include all incarcerated persons who are over the age of 65 and those at higher risk of complications. Vaccine administration data will be added to the COVID-19 Dashboard in the coming days.

It is our intent to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all CDCR and CCHCS employees and incarcerated individuals. We are prioritizing the initial vaccine distribution in a manner that is consistent with CDPH guidelines.

All CDCR/CCHCS staff and incarcerated individuals will qualify to receive the vaccine by Phase 1C.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized by FDA have been carefully evaluated in clinical trials for their ability to protect us from COVID-19.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized by the FDA and have been carefully evaluated in several rounds of clinical trials. The CDC is also tracking any adverse reactions patients may have as the vaccine rollout begins.

How is COVID-19 vaccine distribution determined?

Vaccine distribution is based on several criteria including patient risk factors and interaction with potentially infected patients. This includes:

  • Staff and residents at skilled-nursing facilities
  • Frontline workers and correctional staff at other facilities
  • Vulnerable inmates such as OHU and CTC

Our supply comes from the California Department of Public Health and its guidelines for statewide distribution.

Why are some inmates getting it before the entire staff is vaccinated?

As stated above, distribution of the vaccine is based on risk factors. Inmates who are at a higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19 are offered the vaccine to protect against a more serious illness. These same considerations are being made for staff at this time.

How many doses of the vaccine do I need?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses to be effective. It is important to come back and receive the second dose for the vaccine to be effective.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory?

As of now, no, but it is strongly encouraged as an additional layer of protection for yourself and everyone around you. You will be asked to sign a declination of service form. Any updates will be communicated in a timely manner.

I already had COVID-19. Do I still need the vaccine?

Yes. People are advised to get the vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before. Re-infection is possible, as are severe health risks associated with COVID-19.

Will inmates and staff be required to practice COVID-19 protocols after being vaccinated?

Yes. Getting vaccinated is just one of many steps we can take to protect against COVID-19. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like masks and social distancing, help reduce the chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others.

If a staff member or inmate declines now, will they have the option to get the vaccine later?

Yes, but supply of the vaccine is limited. While CDCR and CCHCS are working with the California Department of Public Health to maximize the number of available doses, there is no guarantee when the next batch will be made available.

If a staff member declines, will their responsibilities change?

Staff members will still be required to follow masking procedures and other protective protocols that are already in place.

Will a flu vaccine protect against COVID-19?

Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, however flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources.