Texas prisoners to receive H1N1 vaccine

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A surprising group of people may be next in line for the H1N1 vaccine. Thousands of high-risk Texas prisoners are targeted to receive the vaccine at the beginning of November.

Texas prisoners who are high risk may be vaccinated before members of the general public who are not high-risk.

"I was like...whoaaa really?" said Amil Snider.

"Why should they get anything first," said Ed Kacvinski. "They are in jail. They're there for a reason. They broke the law."

Dr. Paul McGaha with the Texas Department of State Health Services says the public should not be alarmed.

"First of all, no vaccine from the State Health Department has gone into the prison system," said McGaha.

The state sent out a letter Wednesday which confirms what Dr. Mcgaha said. It says Texas has not allocated any H1N1 vaccines to prisons at this time. But, this doesn't mean vaccines won't be given to high-risk prisoners and correctional officers in the near future.

"A small amount has been set aside that will be targeted for prisoners that are at high risk, like pregnant women in jail," said McGaha.

Other high risk groups are people with chronic illnesses and small children. McGaha says the CDC decides who is at-risk, and then they distribute vaccines equally.

"Regardless if they are in or out of prisons," he said.

Smith County says keeping prisoners healthy will protect those outside.

"These guys is in the cell, it could be 8-10 in a cell and they are going and coming," said Chief Bobby Garmon, with the Smith County Sheriff's Department.

"If it's unchecked in a prison or a jail that could mushroom," said McGaha. "A lot of people could catch it."

So far, the vaccine has only gone to the general public, but it's only a matter of time before at-risk convicts are vaccinated.

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