Jails in central Maine administer vaccines to inmates, staff


Fewer than 20% of inmates at Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn have been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the jail administrator.

Maj. Jeffrey Chute said Friday that 26 members of the total jail population of 150 had been inoculated.

In Franklin County, where the detention center holds up to 39 inmates, roughly 70% of them had refused the vaccine as of Thursday, according to Jail Administrator Maj. Douglas Blauvelt.

Oxford County Jail inmates are only held up to 72 hours before being bailed or transferred to Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.

Oxford County Jail Administrator Dana Dillingham said none of the short-term inmates in South Paris are vaccinated on site.

Two Bridges Correctional Administrator Col. James Bailey said about 60% of the 64 inmates there have been vaccinated. Besides Oxford County, inmates come to the facility from Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties.

The vaccination rate for about 1,600 adult residents at state correctional facilities as of Friday stood at 26% who had been fully immunized, while 45% of that population had gotten at least one dose, Maine Department of Corrections spokeswoman Anna Black said Friday.

Of the 26 juveniles in state custody, six had gotten a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, she said, while one juvenile has had a final dose.

Those rates compare to 56% of all Mainers who’ve gotten a first dose on as COVID-19 vaccine and 52% who are fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

Because jail populations and, to a lesser extent, prison populations are transient, vaccination rates are a moving target, the officials said.

When the Johnson & Johnson vaccine gained federal Food and Drug Administration approval, jail administrators jumped on it.

“For me, the Johnson & Johnson was a blessing to have because it’s one shot versus tracking for two shots over a month period when we don’t have anyone stay that long,” Bailey said.

“I’m a regional jail, so I have … a wide area where (inmates) could potentially be for that second shot. So, when I was able to get the Johnson & Johnson, it was great.”

Chute said his jail started by offering the Modera and Pfizer vaccines, but switched to Johnson & Johnson when it became available.

“That was much more ideal for a correctional environment,” he said.

On the staff side at jails, a majority of workers have opted for the vaccine.

Maj. Blauvelt said most employees at the Franklin County Detention Center have been vaccinated, either at the onsite or in the community.

All but one of the patrol deputies at Oxford County Sheriff’s Office have been vaccinated, according to Sheriff Christopher Wainwright. The one who declined abstained for medical reasons, Wainwright said.

At Two Bridges, Col. Bailey said about 80% of the staff have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Roughly half of the 66 corrections officers at Androscoggin County Jail have been vaccinated, Chute said.

That’s about the same rate as the patrol staff, Sheriff Eric Samson said.

None of the jails require vaccinations for inmates, nor staff.

But they have made them easy to access, holding clinics from time to time, and making them available upon request.

At Androscoggin County Jail, Chute said there are at least three vials of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on hand. Each vial contains up to five doses, he said.

Inmate at the jail for a week or more are given physical exams, when they are offered the vaccine, Chute said. Anyone in the general population may request one at any time.

The exterior of the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

 


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