LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- The state has decided not to appeal a ruling by a federal judge that moves prisoners into Phase 1A of the vaccine rollout, ahead of older Oregonians and teachers.
A statement from Gov. Kate Brown’s office on Wednesday said “the court’s decision is clear.”
The federal judge order mandates that state prison inmates be vaccinated immediately. The state will proceed to vaccinate nearly 13,000 inmates. They are now in the same priority tier as long-term care facilities and nursing homes.
Nearly 3,000 state prison inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 and 42 have died.
"I don't think it's right," Eugene resident Ron Ward said. "After health workers, it should be first come, first serve."
But others didn't agree with Ward.
"I think this is a great idea. State inmates, if someone is getting COVID in the prison system, they don't really have any way of quarantining or getting access to great health care," Dexter resident Mandi Robertson said.
Eugene resident Casey Voyles agreed.
"Prisons aren't meant to keep people separate so if we're going to throw people in cages and lock them up, I suppose we're sort of responsible for their health," Voyles said.
Oregon Department of Corrections Director Colette S. Peters released a statement on Wednesday saying: "This pandemic has been exceedingly difficult for those who live and work in our institutions, and we will continue to work hard to combat this virus. Operationally, we are prepared to offer and administer additional vaccines."
Governor Brown's office also said that this change is not expected to slow down the current timeline of vaccine distribution but it does depend on how many doses the state will receive from the federal government.