Correctional officers start receiving coronavirus vaccine in Roanoke Valley

Inmates will also soon be vaccinated

SALEM, Va – Prisons and jails have been targets for COVID-19 outbreaks since the pandemic started, but priorities for vaccination in Virginia could soon change that.

Western Virginia Regional Jail Superintendent Bobby Russell and his staff were the next in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.

[Where are Virginia’s coronavirus cases? The health department’s interactive map]

“It allows us to be able to protect both the staff and the inmate population,” explained Russell.

He and his staff have had their own struggles with the virus in the last several months, including an outbreak where 230 inmates tested positive late last year.

Russell said the vaccine is the best way to protect the population as a whole.

“We have to have staff present there, and they have to go back to their homes and then come back to the facility, so it’s crucial that we were able to get that vaccination and prevent the spread of it in the facility,” Russell said.

The jail is also working to vaccinate inmates.

“We are fortunate enough to be able to vaccinate the inmate population utilizing our medical staff,” said Russell.

He also said that all his employees who choose to get the vaccine should have their first dose by the end of the week.

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