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Effort to vaccinate Florida prisoners not affected by pause in J&J use

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FDOC Secretary Mark Inch, shown at a Florida Senate hearing earlier this year, is urging prison inmates to consider getting vaccinated. Image: The Florida Channel

Florida’s new effort to vaccinate state prisoners is unaffected by the sudden pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine.

The state had anticipated a reduction in J&J allocations and is using the two-dose Moderna vaccine instead.

The J&J vaccine has already been administered in three privately run prisons.

Secretary Mark Inch of the Florida Department of Corrections has survived COVID-19 himself with moderate but “awful” symptoms.

And now he has posted a personal message for inmates on the importance of vaccinations and the dangers of reinfection, hospitalization and death from the virus.

FDOC says 33,000 inmates — or 41 percent — want the vaccine. And the state has allocated that amount.

They have the right to refuse. But Inch asks them: “Is this really something you want to gamble on?”

He plans to build voluntary vaccinations into the prison intake process. And masks could become optional two weeks after all the staff members and inmates getting vaccinated have received their second shot.

As for himself, Inch says he still has antibodies. He’ll get vaccinated once all of the inmates have had the chance.


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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.