TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - The Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office has had the COVID vaccine available to inmates for the past week now. However, as of Tuesday, only 90 out of about 400 inmates currently in the jail have agreed to get the shot. That's about 22% of the jail's total population.
The county jail's health provider started vaccinating the consenting inmates on Monday of last week. Sheriff Goldsmith said it made the most sense to use the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine since he doesn't know how long each person will be with them.
He hoped utilizing the health provider would take some pressure off the county health department from having to provide and administer the shots.
Goldsmith said they put up signs and brochures in the jail so that inmates could get educated and ask questions before making their decision. He said the choice is completely up to them and that he is respecting their privacy.
"I haven't gone back there and asked them why they are not," he said. "I didn't want to pressure anyone into taking this vaccine. So I don't know why they are not taking it and I'm not going to ask, that's their decision."
He said he is not too concerned about the low amount of interest in the vaccine from the inmates. COVID protocols are still in place for the inmates, including having to wear masks when they are in communal spaces. He said they do not have any cases of COVID in the jail currently. They've been able to keep case numbers low since the one breakout they had in December and January.
The vaccine will continue to be available to any inmates who change their mind later. They are working on what the process will look like for allowing future inmates to get the shot if they want it.
"When people come in and if they will be given the option to have the vaccine, but what does that look like and is someone of clear mind where they can make a decision on that," said Goldsmith. "So those are discussions we will have going into the future."