Colorado Departments of Corrections, Human Services, Public Health mandate COVID-19 vaccine for all employees

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(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Corrections, the Colorado Department of Human Services and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced that all staff members and other state employees that interact with vulnerable populations and those in congregate living settings are now required to have had the COVID-19 vaccine.   

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state public health officials agree that the best way to protect Coloradans is for individuals to be fully vaccinated against the virus. With the Delta variant on the rise, unvaccinated people are at a higher risk of getting the COVID-19 virus and spreading it.

Dean Williams, CDOC executive director, said, “We have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of our staff and the incarcerated individuals in our custody to the best of our ability. Some people will say that it is a personal choice whether or not they want to get vaccinated, but it is very difficult to socially distance in congregate settings, and inmates do not have a choice regarding where they live and who they come in contact with.” 

He added that any person who can get the vaccine and chooses to avoid it puts the lives of others, both incarcerated and otherwise, at risk.

Williams said, “Our dedicated staff have a responsibility to protect public safety and that includes protecting their loved ones, co-workers, inmates, parolees, and communities from this potentially deadly virus.”

“By requiring the vaccine for people who work in congregate settings and with high-risk populations, we can make even more of a difference. We simply cannot allow the delta variant to jeopardize the progress we have achieved in protecting Coloradans,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of CDPHE.

Individuals included in the mandate have until Thursday, Sept. 30 to receive their first dose and are required to be fully vaccinated by The staff members included in the mandate for CDOC and CDPHE will have until September 30th to receive the first dose of the vaccine and are required to be fully vaccinated by Sunday, Oct. 31.

CDHS staff will be on a staggered rollout by facility with fully vaccinated dates between October 31 and November 26. Staff members are invited to get vaccinated at clinics hosted by their department or any other public vaccination location. Colorado has a digital verified vaccine card as part of the myColorado mobile app.  

For CDOC: all employees that interact with the public, inmates, parolees or enter into facilities as part of their job are required to get the vaccine. CDOC will also require all other state employees, contract employees, visitors, volunteers and vendors who enter a prison facility to be vaccinated (with some accommodations made for extenuating circumstances).

For CDHS: all direct care and support staff who regularly enter CDHS facilities, including all leadership positions and other state employees who interact with facility staff, will be required to receive the vaccine. CDHS will also require proof of vaccination for contractors who enter facilities and interact with clients. This includes but is not limited to providers of OT/PT, education providers, security personnel and temporary staff. 

For CDPHE: all employees, temporary staff, and contractors who go in-person to health facilities for their job, staff and contractors who are on-site administering or managing vaccine or testing events, staff and contractors in the Disease Control and Public Health Response Division (DCPHR), the State Lab and Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response and staff and contractors who come in contact with moderate-to-severe immunocompromised Coloradans throughout their duties, as defined by the CDC’s additional dose recommendations.

Employees of CDOC and CDHS have had access to receive the COVID-19 vaccine since January of 2021 through various vaccine clinics for staff, inmates and clients. The departments have also offered incentive programs to encourage vaccination.

Currently, 58.7% of all DOC staff are fully vaccinated. Amongst the inmate population, 64% are fully vaccinated, and 8% have received at least their first dose. The current vaccination rate for all of CDHS direct care staff is 77%, and 73% for residents and clients. 

For more information about where to get vaccinated as well as vaccine safety, click here.

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