Photo by @hakannural on Unsplash

In the final week of August, as the COVID-19 Delta variant spread rapidly throughout the country, Mule Creek State Prison began administering the Pfizer and Moderna booster shots to the incarcerated population. 

The first to receive it were elderly and at-risk medical prisoners. Mule Creek’s acting medical chief support executive A. Altschuler was present in the visiting room as the boosters were given. 

“We see an increase in positive cases throughout the community in Amador County,” she said, adding that Sutter Amador Hospital was full of positive COVID-19 cases.

In June, the Delta variant was the dominant variant in California, comprising 35.6% of cases, according to the California Department of Public Health. That compared to just 5.6% in May. 

On Sept. 2, several Facility E prisoners were transferred and quarantined after exposure to a clinic nurse, who tested positive, even though a rapid test showed these prisoners were negative for the virus. 

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s COVID-19 tracking site on Sept. 9, there has only been one active case of a person in custody with the virus in the last 14 days . 

Altschuler noted that about 89% of the population have received at least one shot, and she commended the population for their willingness to vaccinate. Among the staff, all those who work in healthcare are mandated to take the vaccine. 

Pfizer’s Dr. Mikael Dolsten told the Associated Press in an article in July that early data showed the booster shot study “suggests people’s antibody levels jump five- to 10-fold after a third dose, compared to their second dose months earlier.”  

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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Franklin Lee

Franklin Lee is a reporter for the Mule Creek Post, a newspaper inside Mule Creek State Prison in California.