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US prison guards refusing vaccine despite COVID-19 outbreaks

Photo: Bill Oxford
Photo: Bill Oxford

Prison guards are refusing coronavirus vaccines at alarming rates.

That's causing some public health experts to worry about the prospect of controlling the pandemic both inside and outside of prison.

Infection rates in prisons are more than four times as high as in the general public. Prison staff helped accelerate outbreaks by refusing to wear masks, downplaying people’s symptoms and haphazardly enforcing social distancing and hygiene protocols in confined, poorly ventilated spaces ripe for viral spread.

A Florida correctional officer polled his colleagues earlier this year in a private Facebook group about whether they'd take the COVID-19 vaccine if offered. More than half said, “Hell no.”

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.