Westmoreland County Prison inmates may be compensated for getting a vaccine

WESTMORELAND COUNTY — Despite being isolated and locked up, officials with the Westmoreland County Prison will soon begin compensating inmates if they get vaccinated for COVID-19. It’s not a new concept, but it the prison board is making it open to hundreds of inmates.

The $25 and a shot in the arm could buy inmates here at the Westmoreland county prison protection from COVID-19 and added funds into their commissary accounts.

Westmoreland County Commissioner Gina Cerilli Thrasher stated that there are a lot of vaccines still available.

“There are plenty of vaccines here in Westmoreland county so now it’s time to move forward and get our inmates vaccinated.”

The prison board voted to approve the county jail’s plan to give the shots to inmates — and if they do — they’ll be given $25. However, county leaders wanted to stress that the money WILL NOT be coming from tax payer pockets.

“This is not taxpayer money. What it is,” Westmoreland County Prison Warden Bryan Kline explained. “There’s the inmate canteen fund. It’s coming out of that. Families deposit money on their books like food candy clothing, and that money is put into the canteen fund.”

As of Tuesday, the jail is dealing with 31 positive cases — another outbreak happened inside the walls of the prison in the fall. Warden Bryan Kline explained that the close living quarters and isolation are part of the influence behind the compensation program to try to get as many of the 483 inmates vaccinated as possible.

“If we can use this as a tool to cut down on the spread of covid that’s what we’re going to do and that’s the main priority. It’s like at schools, nursing homes, businesses, prisons; the more people we get vaccinated the better so we don’t have these big outbreaks.”

Channel 11 was told that Hayden’s pharmacy could be vaccinating hundreds of inmates here in the next week or two.