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Bureau of Prisons says initial COVID-19 vaccine doses will be 'reserved for staff': report

Bureau of Prisons says initial COVID-19 vaccine doses will be 'reserved for staff': report
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The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) will reportedly reserve the first vaccines it receives for use on staff members before providing immunization to the prison population.

According to documents obtained by The Associated Press, officials at BOP said doses of the vaccine “will be reserved for staff."

Sources close to the matter told the AP that warden and staff members have been instructed to prepare for the vaccine's arrival within weeks.

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More prisoners than staff in the nation's prisons have come down with the COVID-19 disease. Prisons were quickly seen as potential super-spreader environments for the coronavirus given that it can spread quickly through populations that are crowded into one place.

Government officials have repeatedly stated the vaccine will likely not be widely available until the middle of next year, with the first doses being given to those in high-risk categories and health care workers.

Pfizer and Moderna announced over the last two weeks that their vaccine candidates were shown to be more than 90 percent effective at preventing the coronavirus.

On Monday, a vaccine candidate developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University was shown to be 70 percent effective on average.

So far, Pfizer has been the only pharmaceutical company to file for emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration, though Moderna is expected to file by the end of the month.

The AP reported that 18,467 inmates and 1,736 Bureau of Prisons staff members have recovered from COVID-19 so far, with 141 federal prisoners and two staff members dying from COVID-19. 

In October, the San Quentin state prison was ordered by a judge to reduce its prison population by 50 percent due to the jail’s “deliberate indifference” to the effect the coronavirus was having on the prison population.