MDOC: About 25 percent of inmates have received COVID-19 vaccine; visitations to resume

That equates to about 8,000 inmates in Michigan prisons.
Michigan Department of Corrections and the coronavirus.
Michigan Department of Corrections and the coronavirus.(MDOC/MGN)
Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 3:48 PM EST
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - About 25% of inmates in Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) prisons have been vaccinated.

According to MDOC Spokesperson Chris Gautz, “All prisoners over the age of 50 have now had the ability to get the vaccine.”

He said those 65 years old and older were given the vaccine last month. Beginning this week, any prisoner over the age of 50 who wanted the vaccine was able to get it.

“About 25 percent of our prison population has been vaccinated,” Gautz said.

That equates to about 8,000 inmates, Gautz told TV6.

The MDOC is still providing regular updates on coronavirus cases in the MDOC system, which is updated almost daily. Click here to learn more.

On Friday, the MDOC also announced that in-person visiting of prisoners will resume beginning March 26. In-person visitations have not been allowed since March 2020.

“We recognize how important in-person visitation is to our prison population,” said MDOC Director Heidi Washington. “Connections with family and the community lead to greater offender success. With the continuation of vaccines and cases within the MDOC on a steady decline the department is prepared to provide in-person visits without jeopardizing the safety and wellbeing of our inmates and staff.”

The MDOC has taken a series of safety precautions to ensure in-person visits can resume safely. Prior to entering the facility, visitors will participate in the MDOC screening process which includes a temperature check and an antigen rapid test. Visitors will be asked to store their personal masks in the lockers provided and the MDOC will provide them with a new mask that must be worn during their visit. The prisoner taking part in the visit will also take an antigen rapid test prior to the visit as well.

During visits, interactions will be modified. Elevated health and safety protocols are in place and include hand sanitizer and plexiglass which serves as a divider between the prisoner and their visitor. Additionally, prisoners are prohibited from physical contact with their visitors until further notice.

Approved visitors must schedule their visits in advance and will have a two-hour time limit. Visitors are required to schedule their visit 72 to 48 hours in advance of the scheduled visit. Information about how to schedule visits will be available soon on the MDOC website Once visitors have scheduled their visits, they should monitor the MDOC website to ensure the facility is not in quarantine, or the housing unit of the prisoner they wish to visit is not in quarantine.

Following the suspension of in-person visits on March 13, 2020, the MDOC worked to ensure prisoners had access to several free calls and JPay messages per week after discussions with our communications providers. Also last year the department also began implementing video visitation for prisoners and their loved ones and soon it will be available at all prison facilities. This service has allowed those incarcerated and their families a safe way to stay connected during the pandemic. Video visitation will continue despite a return to in-person visitation.

The department will continue to monitor the situation to determine when changes can be made to the in-person visit experience. The health and safety of MDOC staff, the prisoner population and the public remain the top priority.

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