Medical employees who work under contract at the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo county jails are in the process of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of the statewide effort to begin protecting frontline workers against the virus, according to officials.
The employees are contracted by Wellpath, a Nashville-based inmate health company.
Inmates and custody deputies in San Luis Obispo are not being offered the vaccine, according to San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Grace Norris. It was unclear whether they were offered the vaccine in Santa Barbara County.
"Our primary focus during this time is to maintain the health and safety of our patients and our staff," said Judy Lilley, a Wellpath spokeswoman. "We are working very closely with our local health departments, client agencies and local authorities as vaccine distribution plans are being developed."
Federal Bureau of Prisons officials did not respond to emails seeking comment about whether the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex has received vaccine doses.
Frontline health care workers are among those who will receive the initial doses of the vaccine as it begins its rollout across California, according to a Dec. 5 prioritization scheme released by the Department of Public Health.
More than 7,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine were received by San Luis Obispo County Public Health officials, tripling their supply, which will be given to health care workers who provide "direct, in-person clinical care," according to spokeswoman Michelle Shoresman on Wednesday.
Santa Barbara County Public Health officials announced on Dec. 17 that they received 3,900 initial doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, including 1,950 doses for Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and another 1,950 doses for Marian Regional Medical Center.
More than 1,300 local frontline San Luis Obispo County health care workers have received the vaccine, including dialysis staff, primary and urgent care clinicians, among others, according to Shoresman.
San Luis Obispo County Public Health officials on Dec. 28 expanded vaccine eligibility to include specialty care, including those who provide care in optometry, podiatry, chiropractic care and occupational and physical therapy.
In addition, CVS and Walgreens have started vaccinating long-term care facility staff and residents, and the state has provided doses to health care workers at state facilities, including the California Men's Colony and Atascadero State Hospital.
The Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorizations for two coronavirus vaccines earlier this month.
On Dec. 11, the FDA issued emergency use authorization to Pfizer-BioNTech to distribute its coronavirus vaccine to individuals 16 years or older. The vaccine comes in two doses administered three weeks apart.
Then, on Dec. 18, the FDA issued emergency use authorization for Moderna's coronavirus vaccine, which comes in two doses administered one month apart.