Dane County Jail begins vaccinating inmates

MADISON, Wis. — The wait is over for more than 500 inmates at the Dane County Jail who have been waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Sheriff Dave Mahoney said he was excited to begin the process of vaccinating inmates the same day the State opened up eligibility for everyone age 16 and older.

“Oftentimes these are the people in our community who are most in need of healthcare,” Mahoney said.

The Dane County Jail received 100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Eighty five inmates agreed to get vaccinated Monday.

Inmate Jason Cox said he got the vaccine for his family.

“There’s a lot of older people in my family. So I want to make sure that I get the vaccine so I can’t give it to them,” Cox said.

Inmate Larry Crawford said he was excited about the opportunity to get vaccinated.

“I wanted it,” Crawford said.  “It’s kind of close contact around here so we had to do something.”

Inmate Jason Natcone said he would have preferred to get the more effective two-shot vaccines but was grateful he was able to get a vaccine at all.

“I’ve been praying on it all day so I’ll take it. It seems like the lesser of two evils,” Natcone said.

Mahoney said the “one-and-done” shot makes life easier for the jail because with the two-dose vaccines, some inmates could get released before receiving their second dose.

“When someone first gets arrested, they go into quarantine for 14 days. They’re tested three times a day for temperature. If, after 14 days they test negative, then they can go into general population,” Mahoney said.

Inmates who test positive for COVID-19 are put into an isolation unit near other inmates who also test positive.

Mahoney said with more people now eligible to receive the vaccine, he will be less worried about people who come into the jail who may have COVID-19 and those who leave the jail without being vaccinated.

“The sooner we can get the vast majority of people vaccinated, the better,” Mahoney said.

More than 80% of jail staff members have received the vaccine, according to Mahoney. Mahoney also said medical staff are continuing to work with inmates to get more of them on board with getting vaccinated. Once they get through the first 100 doses, Mahoney said the jail will be able to secure more.