Vax rollout behind bars: Only 431 out of 2,930 elderly prisoners inoculated vs COVID-19

July 14, 2021 - 7:13 PM
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This photo taken May 25, 2020 shows elderly inmates of the New Bilibid Prison who will undergo rapid test for COVID-19. (Bureau of Corrections/Facebook page released)

Only a total of 431 elderly inmates nationwide out of the 2,930 have so far been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 based on the latest data obtained by Interaksyon from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

These figures account for almost 12% of the population of elderly inmates.

Senior citizens are part of the Priority Group A2 for COVID-19 vaccination while those 18 to 59 years old with controlled comorbidities fall under the A3 category.

Based on the same data from BJMP, the total vaccinated persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) stand at 2,575.

The majority of PDLs vaccinated were 59 years old, where almost 40% of them have comorbidities.

Aside from those 59 years old with comorbidity, the data from BJMP doesn’t account for PDLs in other age groups with underlying health conditions.

BJMP has yet to respond to Interaksyon’s request for comment on why there is no data available on vaccinated prisoners under 59 years old with comorbidity.

Deaths in jails

As of July 7, 2021, 35 prisoners have died because of complications related to COVID-19 while as of May this year, 85 deaths in jails recorded were suspected to be related to the virus.

Suspected COVID-19-related death is the fifth leading cause of mortality in jails last year, according to the data from BJMP.

On the other hand, complications related to confirmed COVID-19 cases are the tenth leading cause of death among inmates.

As of July 7, 2021, there are 34 active COVID-19 cases among PDLs.

Jail Congestion

With the overcrowded jails across the country, the Commission on Human Rights earlier called for the prioritization of inmates in the COVID-19 vaccination citing the “multitude of vulnerabilities” they face.

RELATED: CHR calls on government to include inmates on priority vaccination list

Jails in the country have an average congestion rate of 392.

The ideal capacity of congested jails in the country is 28,295 but it is occupied by 112,447 inmates, almost four times more than its ideal capacity.

Given the state of jails in the country, the Supreme Court has released a total of 58,625 inmates from March 17 to August 14 last year.

READ: SC: Inmates freed due to COVID-19 reach 58,625

Vaccine rollout in jails across the country

Meanwhile, out of 470 jails in the country, only 56 jail facilities have at least vaccinated their prisoners against COVID-19 based on the data from BJMP.

Only around 12% of jail institutions have inoculated their prisoners against COVID-19.

Although, the data given by BJMP does not include the figures for the regions of Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen, Cordillera Administrative, and Bangsamoro Administrative.

The BJMP has also yet to respond to Interaksyon’s request for clarification on the vaccination data in these regions.

Similar data from BJMP showed that CALABARZON, which has the highest average congestion rate in the country, has the highest number of COVID-19 vaccinated inmates with 930.

Despite this, the number only accounts for the 4% of the total jail population in the said region.

Metro Manila, which has the highest number of prisoners in the country, has only inoculated 141 PDLs against COVID-19, which is less than 1% of its jail population.

Overall, only 2% of the total jail population of the country received COVID-19 jab.