Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) announced on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 that it will begin vaccinating older, medically vulnerable federal inmates against COVID-19 this week. According to CSC, this is the first phase of their vaccine rollout, as recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
CSC plans to begin the rollout on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. They said they expect to vaccinate approximately 600 inmates in the first phase.
“As further supply of the vaccine becomes available, it will eventually be offered to all federal inmates based on NACI prioritization guidance,” CSC said in a statement. “Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, CSC has an obligation to provide essential health care to federally incarcerated inmates.”
The vaccine will be administered to federal inmates by CSC health care professionals. CSC said they have been working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and have received doses of the Moderna vaccine.
CSC staff will be vaccinated by their home province or territory. CSC said they are working closely with PHAC and the provinces and territories to facilitate access to the COVID-19 vaccine for staff in accordance with the priority groups identified by NACI.
“CSC has health care workers who provide close, direct care to inmates diagnosed with COVID-19 and who work in congregate living settings. We are working closely with provinces to ensure vaccines are prioritized for these workers in the first phase,” they said.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, CSC said they have implemented rigorous infection prevention and control measures at its sites. A recent outbreak of COVID-19 at Joyceville Institution near Kingston, first reported by Kingstonist on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, has been associated with over 173 cases.
According to CSC, as of Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, 151 prisoners at Joyceville Institution and six who were transferred to Collins Bay Institution had tested positive for COVID-19. At Joycville, 67 of the cases remain active, while all of the cases at Collins Bay have resolved.
CSC inmates are not counted in the local COVID-19 statistics, as they reside on federal property. However, according to Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, an outbreak among CSC staff living in the community is ongoing. It has so far totaled 16 cases, with 15 of those reportedly resolved.
As of Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, all CSC institutions in Ontario were closed for in-person visits.
“Vaccines provide an additional measure to limit the spread of the virus and are key to further protect everyone,” CSC said.