Vaccinations underway at Delaware's prisons
COVID-19 vaccinations are underway for staff and inmates across Delaware’s prison system.
Commissioner Claire DeMatteis joined other DOC leadership at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center Friday to set an example by getting their shots.
“Some officers are concerned, they wanna make sure it's safe and this is another reason that you’re seeing the leadership team and the head of the correctional officers association, a lot of captains come out and get vaccinated," She says. "We want officers to see that other fellow officers are getting vaccinated, it’s safe and it’s in their best interest.”
DeMatteis wants at least 80 percent of CO’s to be vaccinated, and encourages every inmate to get a shot. Vaccines are optional.
Geoff Klopp is the president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, the union representing CO’s in the First State.
He says the vaccine will help improve safety and morale at Delaware’s prisons.
“They’ve worked 12 hour shifts, they've worked 16 hour shifts. They’ve all come in on their days off — they have sacrificed more than the people in the State of Delaware will ever know and they’ve gotten no additional compensation for it as of this time," Says Klopp. "It’s a little frustrating to watch how hard they work and to be underappreciated for the dedication that they’ve given to the state of Delaware.”
Klopp wants the DOC to examine ways to compensate correctional officers once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
He and others encourage all staff and inmates to get vaccinated.
Ramone Taylor, a unit commander at Vaughn says morale has been low and tensions high amid the pandemic, with both prisoners and staff worried about their health and safety.
Taylor says the vaccine roll out across will ease tensions and create a safer working environment.
The department will hold vaccination clinics every week to use as much supply as they can get. So far, at least 300 staff and inmates have received shots.
Around 60 of those are inmates, the department is prioritizing inmates 65 and older. The rest are staff members, mostly health cae workers in the prison.