Swine flu has hit the prison population, and now thousands of inmates are among those in Oklahoma waiting to get H1N1 vaccinations.
Prison officials have requested about 15,000 H1N1 vaccine dosages, said Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie. One inmate had swine flu when he arrived at an Oklahoma prison but is now recovering in isolation at that prison, he said. He wouldn’t say which prison for fear other inmates might seek retribution.
Another 3,000 doses have been ordered for inmates and employees at the Oklahoma County jail, said sheriff’s office spokesman Mark Myers.
The voluntary vaccinations are for at-risk inmates, full-time employees and medical staff.
"You get into the issues of why are they (prisoners) getting it instead of some members of the community. It’s a high risk population, confined population,” Massie said.
Prisons have asked for vaccine for those in the high-risk categories.
Getting in line
Prisons and jails haven’t received the vaccine, and the state Health Department reports county health departments could provide vaccines for inmates in high-risk groups.
But the Oklahoma City-County Health Department currently is not providing vaccinations to any prison or jail inmates, said spokesman H.R. Holman.
Otherwise, the state plans no vaccine for prisoners until it is given to those who are high priority in the general population, said Larry Weatherford, state Health Department spokesman.
"Generally their health is probably worse than the general population from the impact of drug and alcohol abuse and an unhealthy lifestyle,” he said.
David Moore, 67, said he isn’t happy that prisoners seem to be getting preferential treatment.
"It’s deplorable to me that prisoners know when they’re going to be protected and I don’t.
Ongoing Coverage: Flu
Ongoing Coverage: Swine flu