NC prisons claim no racial disparity among inmates for COVID-19 vaccines

Coronavirus

Courtesy NC National Guard

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina Department of Corrections officials told reporters in a media call Friday afternoon that they saw no racial disparities in inmates receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

In all, more than 2,500 offenders have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 5,00 prison staffers have received a vaccine, some of those having been vaccinated outside the prison system.

While racial disparities in vaccination rates are apparent in the general population, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety said it wasn’t something they expected to see among offenders.

So far, white inmates received the largest amount of vaccinations at 48 percent with Black inmates close behind at 44 percent. State officials reported Black inmates made up 51 percent of the state prison population.

Prison population %Vaccination %
Black51%44%
White40%48%
Hispanic5%3.5%
American Indian2%2%
AsianLess than 1%No data

The vaccination distribution is more equitably distributed when compared to the general population. In North Carolina, 79 percent of vaccines were going to white patients while only 14 percent are being given to Black patients.

Vaccinated in general populationVaccinated in prisons
Black14%44%
White79%48%
Hispanic2%3.5%
American Indian.7%2%
Asian2%No data

State prison officials said they expected to use this week’s allotment of first doses by the end of the week.

Next week, DPS does not expect to be allocated any new doses.

Dr. Gary Junker, prisons health and wellness director, said the incoming shipment is to be used for second doses for staffers and offenders.

Junker said the intention of those doses is for them to be used on workers who got their first dose within the prison program rather than those who got their first dose elsewhere.

Current data from the department of public safety shows more than 250 cases of COVID-19 in offenders. It represents less than 1 percent of the system’s population.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has administered more than 100,000 COVID-19 tests.

In the last 30 days, the state prison dashboard showed a slight decrease in testing numbers. While not reflected in the public dashboard, DPS officials told CBS 17 that testing has actually increased. DPS does not display numbers past 30 day in their dashboard like the state health department does.

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