With the assistance of the Florida Department of Health, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has established a distribution plan to get COVID-19 vaccines to inmates at the Falkenburg Road and Orient Road Jails.
The Pfizer vaccine will be given on a voluntary basis to inmates in the same order of distribution originally mandated by the Department of Health. Persons 65 years of age and older and persons under the age of 65 deemed medically vulnerable will have first priority. Distribution began on Tuesday afternoon
, April 6, 2021.
Medical staff at both detention facilities conducted a survey within the housing units last week with every inmate in custody at that time to determine who was interested in receiving the vaccine. Among the 2,897 inmates, 640 said they wanted to be vaccinated. As part of the booking process, new arrestees will now be asked if they are interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine upon intake. Those who agree to be vaccinated will join a waitlist. HCSO is set to receive up to 500 vaccines per week and will have nurses administer the vaccines within the inmate housing areas through Naphcare, a company contracted by the Sheriff’s Office to provide medical services within the detention facilities.
Since March of 2020 to date, 352 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. No inmate deaths have been attributed to the virus.
“The sooner we can get the vast majority of people vaccinated, the better for both those within our jails and those within our communities,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “By providing a means for inmates to get vaccinated, we are not only protecting those individuals but also protecting the hardworking deputies and staff members working within our jails every day. In addition, when those inmates are released from jail, being vaccinated will prevent them from contracting and spreading this deadly virus to anyone in the public with whom they come in contact. I hope our inmates take advantage of this life-saving opportunity.”
For media outlets seeking interviews regarding inmate vaccinations, soundbites with Sheriff Chad Chronister are included below, in addition to video footage of inmates receiving vaccines and interviews with two newly vaccinated inmates who are both being housed in the veterans pod as part of the Veterans Resurgence Program at Falkenburg Road Jail.