Advisory committee calls for Vt. inmates to be vaccinated immediately

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 11:45 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 18, 2021 at 4:57 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont health care experts are calling on Gov. Phil Scott to immediately have prison inmates vaccinated against the coronavirus.

WCAX News obtained a copy of the letter sent to Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine from the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Advisory Committee, a group made up of more than two dozen health care providers and advocacy groups. It says inmates are at high risk of serious disease and should have been included when the state vaccinated Group 1A, which included residents of nursing homes.

Following the release of the letter, more than a dozen Vermont lawmakers echoed the group’s calls to move inmates to the front of the vaccine line.

“Human beings, if they’re incarcerated individuals, are still members of our community. We have a moral obligation to take care of their health. When people commit a crime they go to prison and they serve their time, but it is not part of their sentence to be exposed to a virus,” said Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, P/D- Burlington.

However, the governor continues to push back against this. He said this week that inmates who fit within the age-banding approach or ones with certain high-risk conditions are the only inmates eligible for the vaccine and that all inmates will be eligible by the end of April.

“There are dozens and dozens of groups, sectors, and populations who have requested prioritization. A case can be made for each. But with a limited supply, everyone can’t be at the front of the line, so preservation of life must be the top priority,” said Jason Maulucci, a spokesperson for the governor.

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