Story highlights Arizona jails are already overcrowded. So much so that officers are forced to look for dirty diapers to use on inmates, according to Dr. Seth Grossman
While prevention is key, a state law mandates prisoners to be vaccinated for communicable diseases and many have been unvaccinated themselves
Arizona prison health care group’s conference provided an opportunity for facilities to discuss ways to maintain health-care standards. But medical officials are concerned more about the opioid crisis and what can be done to fight drug use.
This is all the more reason why nearly all 75,000 prisoners in Arizona jails are reportedly either not vaccinated or have been refused a vaccination due to religious or personal belief.
According to recent numbers released by Arizona Corrections Commission, some 29,700 inmates across the state’s 30 facilities don’t have the required vaccine for hepatitis B. That’s a staggering 10.8% of the overall population.
“No one is immune,” Janet Rowe, an independent inmate health care consultant, told the Arizona Republic newspaper. “If inmates are not vaccinated, they are at risk.”
This is an uncomfortable reality for the state’s prison health care staff.
In July, the commission voted to push all Arizona prisons toward 100% vaccination rates — despite its concerns that many inmates were refusing vaccinations and even agreeing to check for the diseases behind bars.
Many recent states have passed laws requiring inmates to be vaccinated for communicable diseases such as hepatitis. What’s unusual is the Arizona prison commission didn’t specify which diseases the prisoners were supposed to be protected against.
Some corrections officers who work at jails are being forced to make do with dirty diapers and makeshift beds. Furthermore, they are not getting paid for taking extra precautions, such as using linen towels and cotton T-shirts that were donated by local businesses to cover up the dirty baby blankets and rags.
The Arizona Department of Corrections has so far failed to provide The Insider with a comment on these troubling facts.
To help jail facilities avoid the same health crisis that engulfs countless inmate groups across the country, patients, doctors and health care providers must work together to realize solutions.
In 2010, ABC News aired a report on a drug- and drug-related epidemic that developed in jails across the country. Due to the crisis, the actor Tyrese Gibson told the network, “We are telling people (jails) are safe and secure, but what do you put in their systems to stop diseases from spreading?,” Gibson said. “There’s no protocol in the jails as far as getting rid of bacteria that is still in the walls of the jail or especially in their hands.”
California’s independent commission on prisoners and inmates says vaccination rates are lagging behind “competition” in many areas.
But nursing-home-level solutions are also a hot topic at state and federal levels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a pilot program in California in August that will ensure incarcerated adults who have a rare skin condition will receive treatment and preventative injections for an additional three years.
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