Alaska Department of Corrections says it is not tracking staff vaccination rates

Lemon Creek Correctional Center
Lemon Creek Correctional Center in Juneau. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

More than 130 of the 218 inmates at Lemon Creek Correctional Center in Juneau received COVID-19 vaccines and, so far, 70 of them completed the series. 

The Alaska Department of Corrections updates inmate numbers weekly on its website. However, tracking that data for corrections employees is not so simple. 

The department is not tracking how many staff members have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Spokesperson Sarah Gallagher said in an email that because many staff members receive vaccinations in the community, they’re not able to track the total number. 

She said staff are not required to report vaccine information to the department. Therefore, they have no plans to track that data in the future.

But, Sgt. Randy McLellan with the Alaska Correctional Officers Association — that’s the union that represents correctional officers — said the department should have a good estimate of how many staff have been vaccinated.

“Pretty much everybody that’s been vaccinated staff-wise that I know of got vaccinated at the facility,” McLellan said. “The facility very much knows how many they’ve vaccinated and I’d say that’s the case for most facilities.”

McLellan added that from what he can tell, staff vaccination numbers have remained somewhat low so far.

“Some are skeptical,” McLellan said. “Some had the virus and therefore don’t think they need the vaccine anymore and some really don’t have a fear of it or don’t have family members that are ill or compromised, so they didn’t feel a need to get it.”

Inmates are offered the vaccine but are not required to receive it. However, they are required to be fully vaccinated to have visitors. DOC reopened visitation by appointment only at some facilities this week. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify more people in custody will complete their vaccine series.

Bridget Dowd

Local News Reporter

I keep tabs on what’s happening in Juneau’s classrooms for the families they serve and the people who work in them. My goal is to shine a light on both stories of success and the cracks that need to be filled, because I believe a good education is the basis of a strong community.

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