Correctional Service Canada (CSC) has announced that vaccination of medically vulnerable and older inmates in federal prisons all over Canada will begin today.
The CSC said in a press release that they hope to vaccinate around 600 inmates during the first phase of the vaccination and added that it would be offered to all federal inmates based on the prioritization guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) when more doses are available.
CSC Commissioner, Anne Kelly said: “The health and safety of our employees, inmates, and the public is a top priority for the Correctional Service of Canada. This is very welcome news, as we know vaccines are a critical way to limit the spread of COVID-19.”
The CSC made it known that they have been liaising with the Public Health Agency of Canada to tackle the pandemic by providing vaccines to its inmates.
While responding to the development, Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole tweeted on his official Tweeter handle that “Not one criminal should be vaccinated ahead of any vulnerable Canadian or front line health worker.”
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair gave an explanation that the Canadian government is taking to the advice of the NACI to vaccinate the elderly and inmates with underlying health conditions living in congregate settings.
Blair said: “Prisons have been identified as a higher risk environment because recommended social distancing and other health measures can be more challenging in a custodial setting.”
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers has also responded to the development. In a recent press release, the union said a lot of questions remain unanswered before the vaccinations commence.
The National President of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers-CSN Jeff Wilkins said: “We don’t have many details on what’s going to come next.
“Will the Correctional Officers be vaccinated before any of the general population of inmates who are under 70 years of age? Will the vaccination take place in the workplace? Will CSC prioritize vaccinations where there are outbreaks?”
The union also demands the vaccination of correctional officers as soon as possible. Wilkins added that members of the union are offering services in institutions that have been labeled pandemic sites and they have not been vaccinated for protection.