PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Officials said on Wednesday that around 50% of the roughly 4,500 employees at the Oregon Department of Corrections are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The DOC has approved exemptions for nearly 16% of its workforce, or 713 employees, which corrections officials said were mostly for religions reasons, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
The reported vaccination rate comes just before an executive order signed by Gov. Kate Brown goes into place Oct. 18, which requires some state employees to either be fully vaccinated, request an exemption, or risk losing employment.
Correctional officers were among the earliest groups in the state to get access to COVID-19 vaccines because they work in settings where the coronavirus can spread easily.
While several unions for state employees have bargained later dates on vaccinations, DOC spokeswoman Jennifer Black said next week’s deadline still applies to many Oregon Department of Corrections employees.
Corrections officials said in contrast, 80% of the adults in custody across the prison system are now vaccinated.
During the worst of the pandemic, Oregon’s prisons regularly had some of the largest outbreaks. Records show 44 people in custody and three staff died from COVID-19.