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COVID: State Obtains Vaccines For Stockton Prison Medical Facility

STOCKTON (CBS SF/AP) — Inmates and staff at a Stockton prison facility for convicts with special medical needs received COVID-19 vaccinations, which will be some of the first administered in the state, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Times found that 65 inmates and employees of California Health Care Facility, Stockton, volunteered to receive the vaccine Tuesday, said Steve Crouch, director of public employees for the International Union of Operating Engineers, which represents maintenance and systems employees.

The employees who received vaccinations are in high-risk positions dealing with potentially infected inmates, Crouch told the Times.

At least 154 of the facility's 2,400 inmates are positive for COVID-19, with most of those infections occurring within the last two weeks, according to data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

Vaccination of employees and high-risk inmates is also expected to get underway at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla and the California Medical Facility, Vacaville, according to California Correctional Health Care Services.

"Supply of the vaccine is limited and will be distributed according to state and federal guidelines," the agency said in a statement. "Our first focus will be people at high risk of becoming infected or severely ill from COVID-19."

California state prisons have more than 90,000 inmates and as of this week, nearly 10,000 had active cases of COVID-19, according to the CDCR COVID data dashboard.

Active cases among staff totaled more than 3,400. Cumulatively, there have been 10,531 staff cases and 7,120 have returned to work.

Deaths of 113 inmates and 11 staff members appear to be due to complications of COVID-19, according to the department.

Outside of prisons, vaccinations against the coronavirus are underway for medical workers as California is in the midst of a stunning surge of coronavirus cases that authorities say stems from Thanksgiving gatherings.

Thousands of newly confirmed cases are being reported daily and officials warn that the health system could soon be overwhelmed.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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