State prison employees in California will not have to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
A federal appeals court is citing that the mandate was not legally justified because it required evidence that the state had been “deliberately indifferent” to health in the prisons, according to The Chronicle. The CDCR says they have amped up the safety measures for staff and inmates, and The Union says a vaccine mandate would have risked pushing out over 700 retirement-eligible employees. Advocates for prisoners say the protective measures enacted by the CDCR are inconsistently enforced, and that prisoners are at a greater risk of infection due to the communal nature of the facilities. The vaccination mandate, proposed by J. Clark Kelso, court-appointed overseer of health care in California prisons, was approved in September by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar of Oakland. He cited the rapid spread of COVID-19 in confined prison quarters, the vaccination rate of only 42% among prison guards, and the deaths of 242 inmates and 49 staff members from the virus as the reason for the mandate.
According to The Chronicle, Donald Specter, executive director of the Prison Law Office which represents inmates, said that the decision “means that the staff, the incarcerated population and the community will all be exposed to more virus. This ruling is part of a continuing trend of courts invalidating rulings mandating various COVID restrictions.”
The court decided it needed to balance the health with the administrative needs.