I spoke with John Eckenrode who said he wants corrections officers to be more highly ranked to get the vaccine because he says state prisons are super spreaders for the virus.
The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association released a statement Today in response to Governor Wolf’s vaccination announcement.
According to the release president of the association David Kennedy says the PSTA is renewing their call for the administration to vaccinate first responders so they can focus on doing their jobs.
Kennedy says there are only 4,300 state troopers in the state, but they are responsible for patrolling more than 85-percent of the Commonwealth.
He says so far more than 700 troopers have been infected with nearly 1000 department employees overall and that an outbreak could cripple the department.
“Public safety should be a priority right now”
“When we walk in, you basically cross your fingers and hope that you don’t come into contact with somebody that has it.”
John Eckenrode President of the PSCOA is fighting for corrections officers in state prisons to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’ve been trying to get prioritized. We’ve been trying to get into the 1A phase going on two and a half months now. And for whatever reason, it’s just falling on deaf ears.”
After a recent announcement that teachers will be first in line to get the Johnson and Johnson shot
The PSCOA renewed their call advocating for their 11 thousand officers to be prioritized too.
“I understand why they would want teachers to be vaccinated, but I was really holding out hope that today that announcement would come out and they would include corrections employees also. Unfortunately, they haven’t done that.”
Last month the DOC announced they’re offering 25 dollars to inmates at three state prisons if they get the vaccine saying that will stop the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.
But Eckenrode is saying put the officers first after about 2000 of them have been infected with the virus and four corrections employees have died.
He said that means more officers are working overtime.
“You might get mandated for a 16-hour shift, 3 or 4 times out of your week. After a while, it takes a toll on you. It’s very hard on you personally. It’s very hard on your family.”
Eckenrode said the officers are the ones who can bring the virus into the community.
“At the end of the day, you go home. You’re going home to the people that you care about. You’re going back to the community that you care about.”
The Pennsylvania State Troopers Association also sent out a statement Today saying .
They’re also “renewing their call for the administration to vaccinate first responders so they can focus on doing their jobs.”