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Jail officers get first vaccine dose, inmates next

  • Sheriff Christopher Donelan receives the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, administered by Dr. Ruth Potee. The jail has vaccinated its staff and will being vaccinating inmates this week. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • The Franklin County Jail and House of Correction. Staff File Photo/ANDY CASTILLO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/19/2021 7:02:02 PM

GREENFIELD — Almost all Franklin County Jail and House of Correction officers have received their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, including Sheriff Christopher Donelan, and soon the facility will receive another 300 doses to start doing the same for its inmates.

Donelan, who was the first to be vaccinated, said the jail’s medical division received the vaccines after him, then officers who have immediate contact with new inmates coming in from outside the facility, and finally, the rest of the officers. He said he felt he needed to be first if he was going to ask others to be vaccinated, noting that the only issue he has experienced since getting his first dose is soreness in the arm that received the shot.

The jail received only 100 doses for the first inoculation, Donelan said, so several officers had to get theirs with the area’s first responders at the John Zon Community Center after the jail ran out.

“We signed them up and sent them to Greenfield,” he said. “I was surprised that there were only a couple who were hesitant about getting vaccinated.”

Front-line workers at hospitals and medical centers, corrections officers from the jail, and nursing home residents and staff members received their initial dose of the vaccine over the past two weeks, and on Jan. 15, Greenfield’s vaccine clinic at the John Zon Community Center marked the first of four days during which police officers, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs could receive their first doses.

Donelan said the Moderna vaccine’s second dose is given 28 days after the first, so that’s when officers will get their second, followed by inmates a couple of weeks later.

“I anticipate that today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday) we’ll receive another 300 doses and start vaccinating those who are incarcerated,” he said. “We’ll be having conversations with them, so they feel comfortable about it.”

Donelan said no one will be ordered to get the vaccine.

“I’m very pleased with the response so far,” he said. “Most people were eager to get it.”

He said he expects all 135 inmates will be vaccinated.

“We’re such a small facility that we’ll get it done quickly,” he said. “Then when it’s time, we’ll give everyone the second dose.”

The sheriff said he is pleased that since the pandemic hit the area last March, there have been no COVID-19 cases that have come from inside the jail, although some inmates have tested positive after being arrested.

“When people arrive at the jail, they are immediately tested and quarantined until the results come back,” Donelan said of the facility’s health safety protocols. “If they test negative, they are allowed in with the rest of the incarcerated population. If they test positive, they are isolated until it’s over.

“Everyone has been so cooperative,” he added, “and finally there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine.”

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.

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