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Davidson County Sheriff worries corrections officers will not get priority on COVID-19 vaccine

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Posted at 5:12 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 19:43:45-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — With a COVID-19 vaccine set to be ready in the very near future, the question is: Who should get it first? The C-D-C actually ranks those most at risk, but there's concern that one important and very high-risk group may not get its due: corrections officers.

The Davidson County sheriff is frustrated and concerned not just for his own staff, but also for thousands of corrections officers working in jails and prisons across the country. He worries they may not make the list for early access to a Covid-19 vaccine.

"Although corrections doesn't get a lot of attention when it comes to law enforcement to me they should be at the front of the line," said Hall.

He believes corrections officers should be right there with healthcare workers and high-risk patients, who are already flagged for vaccines by the CDC. The agency goes on to list first responders like police and firefighters.

Hall wants to make sure corrections officers are included. "I think law enforcement and first responders catch everyone's attention and at least politically makes everyone feel better."
But Hall says corrections officers are at greater risk of getting sick.

He says since the pandemic, 120 of his employees have tested positive for COVID-19 with nine currently in quarantine. About 400 inmates have tested positive and one has died. There are currently 31 in quarantine.

"The reality of the situation is there is nobody, an agency, that has been more impacted by COVID than we have in Metro," Hall said.

The sheriff has no problem with first responders getting vaccines -- they too are at great risk. But, he insists corrections officers need to be included with police and firefighters. "They do incredible work and they deserve a lot of help, but there is no way that they deserve to be in the front of the line of people working in prisons and jails all over the country."

There is no doubt nationwide Covid hits first responders very hard. The most recent statistics show more than 230 police and corrections officers have died from the illness with a thousand more infected while on duty.

The CDC and state and local health departments are still working out the details of exactly who will get access to the vaccine first, but the guidelines should be in place before the end of the year.