“Our system has become overrun” Pa. correctional officers want COVID-19 vaccines

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania
Carlos Dennis, Ron DeSantis, Javier Crespo

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association renewed their call for the Wolf administration to prioritize correction officers in state prisons over smokers for the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.

“This is simple math that everyone can understand,” said PSCOA President John Eckenrode. “So, I’ll say it again: Our system has become overrun.”

The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association has reported that 565 staff and 1,437 inmates now have the virus across the Commonwealth.

“For weeks, we have called on the Department of Corrections to stop prison transfers and have been ignored,” Eckenrode said. “Last week, we called on the Department of Health to prioritize vaccinations for our officers.”

Last week the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association called on Alison Beam to prioritize correction officers shortly after Governor Tom Wolf nominated her to fill Former Secretary of Health Rachel Levine’s position.

“If nothing changes, at this rate, our staff won’t have enough people to do their jobs in some prisons. This is a health and public safety crisis,” said Eckenrode. “It’s time to stop ignoring it and apply common sense. It’s time to prioritize vaccinating staff so they can do their jobs – and also not worry about bringing the virus home to their loved ones.”

The Wolf administration moved smokers to the “1A” category for vaccinations last week at the recommendation of the CDC.

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