Louisiana will start giving COVID-19 vaccine to prisoners 70 and over and those who have end-stage renal disease next week. The state has already started vaccinating these same groups of people in the wider community.
“As we open up priority groups for our general population, we will vaccinate those same priority groups who are actually in our prisons,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards at a press conference Wednesday.
Edwards said this initial group of prisoners to receive the first dose of the vaccine is 489 inmates. About 39 of these people are incarcerated in local jails. The rest live in state facilities. The prison system is working to get consent for the vaccine from inmates this week, he said.
About 290 medical staff who worked in prisons have already been vaccinated, Edwards said.
The prison system has attributed 31 deaths among inmates in its state prisons to COVID-19. It has returned 2,698 positive tests on a total of 7,431 inmates who were screened for the virus.
But there are far more prisoners who have not been tested for COVID-19 at all. The state has about 28,200 state inmates — including 14,500 living in state facilities and 13,000 living in local jails.