EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is allowing in-person inmate visits to resume this weekend at the downtown jail and jail annex. Safety precautions and capacity limits will be in place.
As operations shift closer to normal inside these facilities, and now that all adults in Texas are eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine, some are wondering when inmates could get their shots.
El Paso officials tell ABC-7 the timeline is not clear yet. Inmates are currently unable to leave facilities to visit vaccination sites, so doses would have to be brought inside. County Judge Ricardo Samaniego has previously said the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be useful in this scenario, but he said the county is waiting until supply increases.
County Commissioner David Stout told ABC-7 in a statement that the state has not provided inmate vaccination guidance. Stout warned inmates are particularly vulnerable to the virus.
“You have people coming in and out every day, whether it's the employees or whether it's people that are being booked nearly every day,” Stout said in an interview earlier this year. “Even though we're taking precautions, there's still is the risk that exists.”
Stout added that inmates are at increased risk due to their congregate setting.
Data collected by the Marshall Project and the Associated Press found fewer than 20% of state and federal prisoners in the U.S. had been vaccinated against Covid-19.
“Inmates are human,” Stout wrote in a statement. “They are at risk, and they should be vaccinated.”
ABC-7 asked the Sheriff’s Office if it was aware of any inmate vaccination plans. A spokesman said the office had not received word of any plans yet.