Department of Correctional Services says that no inmate will be forced to take the vaccine.
A TOTAL of 180 inmates have been vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus at correctional facilities in the Northern Cape following the roll-out that started on Monday.
The official roll-out of the vaccination programme will be launched at Tswelopele Correctional Services Centre in Kimberley on Thursday.
Free State and Northern regional spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) Josial Ramokoena stated that no inmate would be forced to take the vaccine.
“Some inmates have already indicated that they do not want to be vaccinated. While we encourage mass vaccination to achieve herd immunity, it is up to each individual to decide if they want to take it,” said Ramokoena.
He stated that inmates – both sentenced persons and those awaiting trial – would be administered with the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“We do not want a situation where inmates leave the justice system without being fully vaccinated,” he explained.
Ramokoena envisaged that 90 percent of the total inmate population would be vaccinated between July 19 and August 7.
He added that they had accredited nursing staff to administer the vaccines.
“Any inmate experiencing any adverse reactions or side-effects after being vaccinated will be provided with medical treatment.”
He stated that 115 prison warders and Correctional Services staff had been vaccinated in the Northern Cape and Free State so far.
“Officials will also be vaccinated on Thursday, where we hope to have 67 percent of all staff members vaccinated by September 30.”
The area communication manager for the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) in the Kimberley management area, Siphiwo Nomvethe, said that the department in the Free State and Northern Cape region kick-started its vaccination programme for inmates on Tuesday.
“To this end, a total of 845 inmates were inoculated in the Free State and Northern Cape region to date, with 180 of those vaccinated in the Northern Cape.”
He added that inmates formed part of the bigger community.
“Government plans on vaccinating 67 percent of the entire population of the country, which is about 40 million citizens, in order to achieve herd immunity. It is against this backdrop that the Free State and Northern Cape region of the DCS is embarking on a massive vaccination drive for inmates to achieve herd immunity on the inmate population.”
Nomvethe stated that DCS officials in the Northern Cape would receive their shots on Thursday.
“The majority of DCS officials commenced with their vaccinations on July 15. This drive, together with other efforts of the department, will ensure that essential services are not unhindered, even in the midst of this deadly virus.”
He indicated that the MEC for Health, Maruping Lekwene, along with officials from the department, would oversee the official roll-out for the Northern Cape at Tswelelopele Correctional Centre on Thursday.
“The DCS regional commissioner for the Free State and Northern Cape, Subashini Moodley, deputy regional commissioner Takalani Mashamba, along with officials from the Department of Health, the acting head of department, Riaan Strydom, and the provincial vaccine co-ordinator, Dr Andre Rose, will also attend the event.”