Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — The N.C. Division of Prisons is ensuring that all offenders who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot – and who have consented to be vaccinated – are inoculated as soon as possible over the next several days.

Prisons medical officials, who consistently monitor the eligibility and administration of vaccinations to offenders, indicate that close to 80 percent of current offenders have been vaccinated. Beginning the week of January 11, the Division of Prisons had provided nearly 9,000 booster shots to offenders. Through their continuing booster campaign with additional vaccines received, the division has now provided boosters to a total of almost 12,000 offenders and is working to ensure these additional boosters are recorded in the CVMS database. An additional 4,200 offenders who are eligible continue to express an interest in receiving the shot. Amidst reports that some offenders who want a booster have yet to receive their shot, leadership has pledged to ensure this occurs as quickly as possible.

“We remain committed to doing everything in our power to get shots in the arms of all eligible, consenting offenders without delay,” said Commissioner of Prisons Todd Ishee. “This is an ongoing effort to do all that we can to keep people healthy and safe.”

“Given the abundance of COVID-19 vaccines, there is no reason any person in confinement who is eligible and wants a vaccination or booster should not be able to get one,” said Department of Public Safety Secretary Eddie Buffaloe. “Our vaccination efforts in Prisons are ongoing and I have directed the Division of Adult Correction to conduct a thorough review to ensure every facility has the resources necessary to complete vaccinations as quickly as possible.”

Under current CDC guidelines that call for a five-month interval between the second shot of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, more than 65 percent of eligible offenders who have consented to receive the booster have already received them. Additional doses were scheduled to arrive to the Prisons by January 14, and administrations will continue, allowing Prisons to be well ahead of an original goal of completing booster administrations to all eligible consenting offenders prior to the end of January 2022.

The Division of Prisons offers all offenders and staff education on COVID-19, vaccine options and the incentive opportunities available to those who choose to receive the vaccine.

Staff continue to work closely with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina National Guard in this vaccination effort and will request additional resources from these partners as needed.

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