As deaths and new coronavirus cases continue to skyrocket, local prison authorities have embarked on a mass vaccination campaign among the hundreds of inmates of Her Majesty’s Prison, Dodds in St Philip.
Superintendent Lt. Col. John Nurse said on Monday that a quarter of the prisoner population has so far been inoculated against the COVID-19 virus which up to Sunday had claimed 59 victims island-wide.
Nurse, however, indicated that the vaccination of prisoners was being administered on a voluntary basis.
“We had some people who volunteered and they got their vaccinations; it was just over a quarter of the population at the time,” the prison boss told Barbados TODAY.
He also said that others were being encouraged to be vaccinated.
“This is how it goes. People would see things happening and they also would wish to get involved. I think it is going to be a fairly good effort,” the prison chief declared with respect to the 795 male and female inmates housed at HMP Dodds which can accommodate 1,250.
Nurse also pointed out that the proportion of those volunteering to take the injection was about the same among the genders behind bars.
At the same time, Nurse confirmed that one prison officer has tested positive for the viral illness which she apparently contracted outside of the penal institution.
He indicated that the officer’s circle of contacts was “very’ small.
“She tested positive, yes and as per the normal protocol anyone who may have been a primary or secondary contact would get tested and that has already started. So we don’t have an issue, we don’t have a problem. The number of persons she would have interacted with is very, very small,” the prison superintendent disclosed.
“With what is going on in the community, one would expect that people would come into contact with other persons. So we are on our guard, we keep looking out and the staff know exactly what they have to do if they feel unwell or if they believe they were exposed or even if they were part of any contact tracing. That is going to happen across the island if you listen very carefully to what the Minister of Health is saying; there are a lot of people out there who are positive,” the prison chief contended.
Noting that prison visits were still restricted, Nurse said authorities have to make sure they catch the virus in a timely manner if and when it is brought into the penal facility.
In December 2020, the Dodds prison experienced what became the island’s largest COVID-19 cluster that started with one prison warden testing positive for the illness.
The outbreak which at its peak affected 363 infected people that included 85 officers, 261 inmates and 17 staff members, was brought under control around February 2021. ([email protected])