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Judge rules in favor of vaccine mandate for some California prison guards

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A California judge on Friday ruled in favor of a vaccine mandate for some California prison guards, arguing that the court was not in a position to dictate how the state should be taking steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic, The Sacramento Bee reported.

“This is an unfortunate situation. We’re all dealing with this global pandemic which has gripped the planet for more than a year and a half now,” Kern County Superior Court Judge Bernard Barmann said, according to the news outlet. “And the state of California is taking steps to address it, and unfortunately in the nature of such circumstances, something has to give.”

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association attempted to fight a vaccine mandate that California’s Department of Public Health instituted in mid-August requiring certain prison staff, including correctional officers, to get inoculated if they work near health care settings. 

The Bee noted, however, that the vaccination rate among prison staff sits at 60 percent as of Oct. 7. According to data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as of Friday, there were 296 active staff COVID-19 cases and 46 employees deaths from the coronavirus.  

Barmann said he would consider the association’s arguments against the vaccine for correctional officers just one day before certain prison employees were required to be vaccinated and a temporary order pausing the state requirement was instituted, according to the Bee. The requirement for all other jail staff covered under the mandate, however, would still remain in place. 

Barmann’s decision means that those correctional officers working in or near health care settings will now also be required to get vaccinated, though it could get appealed, according to the news outlet.

The Hill has reached out to the California Correctional Peace Officers Association for comment.

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