Inmate vaccination rates above general population

CASPER — Approximately 62 percent of people incarcerated in Wyoming state prisons have been at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, data from the Wyoming Department of Corrections shows.

The same data, derived from the most recent count at the end of November, showed 54.6 percent of the state’s incarcerated population had been fully vaccinated. That includes those who’ve either received one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two of either Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech, though Moderna is much more common. For comparison, about 47 percent of Wyoming’s overall population is fully vaccinated.

An additional 7.3 percent had received one dose of the two-shot vaccines.

Since booster shots have been made available in prisons, 23.4 percent of incarcerated people have taken them. Boosters include a second dose of Johnson & Johnson or a third of the others.

Although corrections department figures show that no booster shots have been given at the Wyoming Women’s Center in Lusk, WDOC spokesperson Paul Martin said that doses have been distributed and tracked by Niobrara County but not included in the facility’s reports to the department.

As the department takes over vaccine distribution, Martin said, those numbers should be available in the coming weeks.

The inoculation rates fluctuate frequently, as people move in and out of the state’s prison system. Those entering Wyoming prison facilities are offered the vaccine upon intake, Martin said. They can also request to be inoculated while inside, and the facility (if it does not keep doses on hand) will order vials of the vaccine when they have enough demand to use them up.

“Due to a relatively short shelf life, they do not maintain an inventory at the smaller facilities so as not to waste it,” Martin said in an email.

At one point in the late summer, the department reported that 64% of people incarcerated in Wyoming prisons had been fully vaccinated and another 20 percent had received one dose.

Rates have fallen as vaccinated people have left the facilities and unvaccinated people have come in, Martin said.

Although estimated staff vaccination rates were available earlier this year, Martin said Wednesday that the department is no longer tracking or reporting those numbers.

With 75 percent of its population fully vaccinated, the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp in Newcastle has the highest inoculation rate of the state’s prisons. Just two of the 141 people who have received shots are only partially vaccinated. The facility houses around 186 people, according to the most recent count.

The Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins has reported the lowest inmate vaccination rate, with 48.7 percent fully inoculated and another 5 percent having received one dose.

The Rawlins facility experienced the state’s most recent prison COVID outbreak, with one in four people testing positive for the virus in a three-week period in late November and December.

The Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution reported 66.3 percent of its population had received at least one dose by the end of November, with about 80 percent of those fully vaccinated.

At the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton, 135 of its roughly 140 residents, or 56.4 percent, have been fully vaccinated. Another six have begun the two-dose series.

Though data from the women’s center does not reportedly include doses administered by the county, numbers provided by WDOC show that 144 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine through the department, and 135 of those have been fully inoculated.