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Hawaii prison coronavirus vaccination rates outpace that of jails

                                Kulani Correctional Facility in Hilo.
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Kulani Correctional Facility in Hilo.

About 54% of Hawaii inmates statewide were vaccinated against the coronavirus as of June 21, according to data released by the Department of Public Safety today. But that rate drops to just 23% of the inmate population at a jail in Hilo where 236 inmates and 19 staff have been infected by the virus during a major outbreak at the severely overcrowded facility.

Overall, the vaccination rates are much higher at the state’s prions than jails.

The data released today was compiled by the Public Safety Department’s Health Care Division as part of a point-in-time study, and includes the following rates at each facility:

Prison Vaccinations

Kulani Correctional Facility – 89%

Waiawa Correctional Facility – 82%

Halawa Correctional Facility – 71%

Women’s Community Correctional Center – 51%

Jail Vaccinations

Kauai Community Correctional Center – 58%

Maui Community Correctional Center – 47%

Oahu Community Correctional Center – 41%

Hawaii Community Correctional Center – 23%

Public safety officials have said for weeks that they didn’t collect data on the percentages of inmates vaccinated at its facilities, though they did release data last month on the overall number of inmates who have been vaccinated at each facility. That data provided a limited view of how safe the jails and prisons were, however, because inmates come and go.

The department says it is working to convince more inmates to get vaccinated.

“Staff are working hard to convince inmates that it is in their best interest to get vaccinated, not only for themselves, but also so they can keep their families and friends safe,” said Tommy Johnson, deputy director for corrections, in a press release. “PSD continues to encourage everyone to voluntarily get tested and receive the COVID vaccination. Our health care and security staff are working around the clock to mitigate spread of the virus in the facilities, and they frequently go back to inmates who have said no to see if they will reconsider, in the hopes that they will get the shot before they are released.”

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