A report by AP News and The Marshall Project has found that prison employees across the country are frequently rejecting the vaccine at higher rates than prisoners. Some of the reasons prison employees have given for rejecting the vaccine include concerns about its effectiveness and side effects; some cited debunked conspiracy theories peddled by far-right websites; and others simply have a lack of faith in the prison system given how poorly they have handled mitigating the effects of the virus.
This is concerning for a multitude of reasons: Prisons are natural hotspots for the virus, as the cramped living conditions, questionable hygiene practices, and an inability to effectively distance makes it easier to transmit the virus. FCI Miami, a federal prison in Miami, experienced two outbreaks last year. The first, which happened last July, resulted in over 400 of the prison’s 852 incarcerated people contracting the virus. In December, another 100 people also wound up contracting the virus.
Despite that, less than half of the prison’s 240 employees have been fully vaccinated, despite the vaccine being made available to them for well over a month.