County Jailers and correctional officers are now eligible to be COVID vaccinated.
The State Health Department announced Friday that the jailers had been overlooked on paper. The jailers had been moved to the 1A1 phase of the vaccine plan. Overton County Sheriff John Garrett said it’s an important change.
“Jails and prisons throughout the state and nation has a lot of people in very confined areas,” Garrett said. “And, it can be very devastating if somebody comes in that is infected with the virus. That creates a lot of problems. A lot of safety issues. A lot of logistical concerns.”
Garrett said while inmate infections have not been a major issue in the county jail, keeping employees from exposure has. Garrett said the option of being vaccinated will help with staff shortages.
“We have had issues with employees,” Garrett said. “Whether it be corrections or road officers or office staff, being exposed, having to quarantine, some folks testing positive and then just having to fill the gaps as when we can. We struggled for some time in the months of September and October due to quarantine issues or people actually testing positive.”
Garrett said the department is only aware of one COVID positive inmate that has entered the county jail since March.
“We were able to handle that situation without incident and without exposing other people,” Garrett said.