Jail employees boost COVID-19 vaccinations with benefit program

Jail Health Services recently wrapped up a successful month of COVID-19 vaccinations, building on a program that used financial incentives to encourage vaccine uptake among people in custody.

As part of the COVID-19 Vaccine Benefit Program, people detained at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle and the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent were provided a $50 credit to their commissary accounts (“books”) for any dose as part of their overall vaccine series. Anyone receiving a first, second, or a booster dose was eligible.

Kelsey Tran, RN and Beatrice Igeria, RN

From May 19 to June 21, staff administered 500 vaccine doses totaling $25,000 in donor dollars distributed. This represents a 66% increase in vaccines administered compared to the same period in April 2022. During this period the vaccine refusal rate decreased from 74.3% to 51.9%.

“This strongly suggests that these benefits remain popular among our in-custody populations, and that they represent a significant step in improving the overall health and safety in the facilities,” said Jail Health’s Chris Rampaul, a member of the Vaccine Benefit Program.

Catherine Wamai, CNA, Ceciliah Wanjiru, RN, Rebecca Heaton, RN, and Syreeta Miller, CNA (l-r)

COVID-19 vaccination rates inside jails and prisons lag behind the community at large. That’s the case at King County jails, even though everyone in custody is given opportunities to get vaccinated starting at intake.

Among King County residents over the age of 5, an estimated 94% have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, and about 54% have received a booster dose in addition to their primary series.

Vaccinations are required for all King County employees working in secure detention.

Leadership at Jail Health Services (JHS) and the Department of Adult & Juvenile Detention (DAJD) commended staff for their efforts on the Vaccine Benefit Program, which brought an increased administrative workload.

Those who helped make the work possible included: the JHS Vaccine Nursing team, DAJD’s uniformed employees, DAJD finance staff, JHS Health Information Management, and the JHS project team.

Staff continue to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to people in custody without the commissary credit.

Jail Health Services is a division of Public Health – Seattle & King County.