HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association called on Acting Department of Health Secretary Alison Beam to prioritize correction officers in state prisons over smokers for the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.
“It’s one thing to follow CDC guidelines regarding smokers, but that doesn’t prevent the administration from making the vaccination of its own corrections officers a higher priority,” said PSCOA Western Region Vice President John Eckenrode.
This announcement came shortly after Governor Tom Wolf nominated his current Deputy Chief of Staff Beam to fill Former Secretary of Health Rachel Levine’s.
The Wolf administration moved smokers to the “1A” category for vaccinations on Wednesday at the recommendation of the CDC.
“Our state prison system has been overcome by COVID, but for some reason the Wolf administration has decided to ignore its own corrections officers, who are risking their lives every day in some of the worst conditions of this pandemic,” said Eckenrode. “Our members are overworked, exhausted and are working massive amounts of overtime due to COVID-19 illnesses within their ranks.”
“The mental anguish of passing the virus to their loved ones also takes a tremendous toll. That’s why this decision to put smokers ahead of corrections officers is repugnant,” Eckenrode said. “It’s time for this administration to use common sense in its vaccination plan.”
Correction officers are currently in the “1B” category for vaccination.