For the first time, state inmates in FL will get COVID vaccinations

For the first time, inmates in Florida's public and private state prisons will soon be getting COVID vaccinations. Credit: Alex Potemkin/Getty Images

After being skipped over for four months, inmates in Florida’s public and private state prisons will soon be provided with COVID-19 vaccines.

Representatives of the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the Florida Department of Corrections separately confirmed Tuesday evening that 33,000 doses are heading into the prison system.

Emergency Management indicated the doses are for inmates and corrections staff, but Corrections Communications Director Michelle Glady stated the doses are for inmates who requested vaccinations.

The agency representatives did not say which vaccines are to be provided, whether they require one dose or two, nor when the first shots will be given.

The state’s public and private prisons, work camps and other facilities incarcerate approximately 83,000 men, women and teen-agers.

In January, Corrections Secretary Mark Inch requested vaccines and said more than 4,000 inmates qualified under limited criteria at the time based on being 65 years old or older. Gov. Ron DeSantis did not authorize vaccination of any inmates, regardless of age or infirmity, while vaccine supplies for the general public were in short supply.

The Florida Department of Health’s weekly report on COVID infections in state prisons said as of Wednesday that 213 inmates and seven corrections employees have died of COVID-19. The Department of Corrections reported 13 of its prisons have active cases of the disease but did not identify which ones.

The Marshall Project tracker ranks Florida second in the nation for COVID deaths among state inmates, following California, where 217 have died. Just three other state prison systems report more than 100 inmate deaths, and all others have had fewer than 100. Thirteen state prison systems report having had fewer than 10 deaths.