Some staff members and inmates at North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin will be receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, but exactly who will receive the vaccine and when remains unknown.
Corrections officers and jail personnel are included in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccine distribution plan. A representative from GEO Group, the company that owns and operates the North Lake facility, told the Daily News that the vaccine will be an option for employees.
“As part of our efforts to combat COVID-19, GEO Group is working closely with state and local health departments to coordinate vaccination efforts for staff, inmates and detainees at our secure facilities across the country. The coordination of these vaccination efforts is in alignment with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as criteria established through the Food and Drug Administration approval process,” Christopher Ferreira, manager of corporate relations, stated in an email.
The vaccines will not be mandatory for guards and staff members at GEO Group facilities, according to Ferreira.
“Our staff are not required, nor mandated, to receive the vaccine but will be offered the vaccine when available to them,” he stated.
The issue of when vaccines will be administered is dependent on the distribution of throughout the state.
“The timing of vaccine distribution to staff, inmates and detainees is presently being directed by the local and state health departments in the jurisdictions in which we operate through the guidance and prioritization recommendations offered by the CDC,” Ferreira stated.
North Lake falls within the jurisdiction of District Health Department No. 10, which is in the process of administering Phase 1B vaccinations and setting up vaccination clinics. The health department is asking for patience due to a limited supply of the vaccine.
GEO Group representatives declined to comment about whether or not the facility had received or administered any doses of the vaccine. As of Tuesday, Jan. 12, the health department reported a total of 58 doses of the vaccine given in Lake County.
In addition to corrections officers, Phase 1B of the state’s distribution plan also includes individuals age 65 and older, among other priority groups.
GEO Group declined to comment on whether or not the vaccine would be mandatory for inmates and detainees who meet the age requirement, as well as whether or not the inmates outside of that age group would receive vaccines.