TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - There is a lot of national attention right now about COVID-19 vaccinations in jails and prisons.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said his inmates may or may not get the vaccine depending on whether they are a state or a local inmate.
"The problem we have is that we are not a long-term care facility, which means most of our inmates are in and out within four or five days."
He said that presents a problem in providing the vaccine for his inmates.
“So the problem you have with trying to get all of the inmates the vaccine, it would be that 20 or 21-day break that you have from the first to the second shot."
He has discussed this with members of the state health department. State inmates housed in Lee County currently stand a better chance of receiving the vaccine.
"We do know that the Mississippi Department of Corrections is working on some type of plan to vaccinate the state inmates which are here for a longer period of time, which will be the state's responsibility."
The sheriff’s office will work with the state to get that done.
The jail has a medical staff around the clock who monitor the situation. If an inmate tests positive for the virus and is a misdemeanor criminal, the sheriff tries to get the inmate removed from the jail.
The jail currently has limited options to provide isolation for quarantine. Long-term inmates are isolated anyway.
"We treat fever and cough and sinus every day here,” the sheriff added. “The COVID is not any different treatment. It's just that the contagious part of it, passing it from one person to the next, is a problem. But it is a jail and we just do the best that we can."
The Lee County jail currently houses 210 inmates. Those numbers are about to drastically drop because of changes at the jail due to a lack of employees, he said.