CDCR Outlines Vaccine Prioritization for Healthcare Personnel and Custody Staff

Davis Vanguard’s weekly highlights from CDCR’s COVID-19 crisis

CDCR Confirmed COVID-19 Cases and Outcomes

As of Jan. 22, there have been a total of 45,954 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the CDCR system – 2,201 of them emerged in the last two weeks. 2,962 cases are active in custody while 668 have been released while active. Roughly 91 percent of confirmed cases have been resolved.

There have been 184 deaths across the system. 71 incarcerated persons are currently receiving medical care at outside health care facilities across the state.

In the past week, nine incarcerated persons have reportedly died from what appear to be complications of COVID-19 at California Men’s Colony, Mule Creek State Prison, Salinas Valley State Prison, Kern Valley State Prison,  North Kern State Prison, California State Prison, Corcoran, Correctional Training Facility and Wasco State Prison.

This is the first death reported at Wasco State Prison.

CDCR officials have withheld their identities, citing medical privacy issues. 

One of the individuals who died this week was former music producer and convicted murderer Phil Spector

Spector, 81, had been serving a 19-year sentence in prison for the murder of Lana Clarkson in 2003. He was incarcerated at CA Healthcare Facility.

He was pronounced deceased of natural causes at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16, at an outside hospital, according to CDCR. “The official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office,” the statement said.

He was eligible for parole in 2025.

In the past two weeks, CSP Solano has tested the most individuals, 71 percent of its population.

Kern Valley State Prison has tested the least, just 11 percent of its population.

There are currently 94,623 incarcerated persons in California’s prisons – a reduction of 27,786 since March 2020, when the prison outbreaks first began.


 As of Jan. 20, 26,440 individuals received first-round vaccines statewide. 21,793 are staff and 4,647 are incarcerated people.

CDCR and California Correctional Healthcare Services (CCHCS) state that they are administering vaccines in accordance with state and federal guidelines under Phase 1A. 

The rollout began at California Health Care Facility and California Medical Facility over two weeks ago. Other facilities have also started receiving supplies of the vaccine. 

Internal medical staff and CDCR’s contractor, Emeryville Occupational Medical Center (EOMC) will administer vaccines at all 35 facilities. EOMC started vaccinations on Dec. 28, 2020 at several institutions. 

As per the guidelines, frontline personnel, including custody staff who have not had COVID-19 in the last 90 days and have contact with high-risk patients, are prioritized. 

CDCR has encouraged staff to take two doses of the vaccine offered at their facility. Notably, a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is required at 21 to 28 days after the first dose. Eligible staff from each facility were scheduled to have their first vaccinations completed by mid-January.

The CDCR Vaccine Workgroup has reminded staff that they are required to wear a mask and practice social distancing protocols even after being vaccinated. 

CDCR healthcare personnel and custody staff who have contact with patients 65 years of age or older or between 55-64 years of age are eligible to receive the vaccine. Additionally, healthcare personnel and custody staff who are 55 or younger and average-risk, and come in contact with patients in COVID isolation units, dialysis, hospice, COVID quarantine units, etc. are eligible to receive the vaccine. 

Further, the Workgroup suggests not to vaccinate all staff in the same unit/watch at the same time as they might be out with side effects. They are encouraging healthcare personnel and custody staff in contact with patients with high-risk conditions like immunosuppression and diabetes and are COVID-19 susceptible to get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

CDCR Staff

There have been at least 14,725 cases of COVID-19 reported among prison staff. 22 staff members have died while 12,746 have returned to work. 1,979 are still active.

Six staff members have recently died from COVID-19 at Salinas Valley State Prison, Correctional Training Facility, California Institution for Men, Deuel Vocational Institution and Chuckawalla Valley State Prison.

CDCR Comparisons – California and the US

According to the Marshall Project, California prisons rank first in the country for the highest number of confirmed cases. Federal prisons follow closely behind, and Texas ranks third. 

California makes up 12.7 percent of total cases among incarcerated people and 7.8 percent of the total deaths in prison.

California also makes up 15 percent of total cases and 11.7 percent of total deaths among prison staff.

Division of Juvenile Justice

As of Jan. 22, there are 13 active cases of COVID-19 among youth at the Division of Juvenile Justice facilities. 184 cases have been resolved since the first case was identified in June.


By Julietta Bisharyan, Nick Gardner and Jaskiran Soomal 

Contact Aparna Komarla: for more information about this article

About The Author

The Covid In-Custody Project partners with the Davis Vanguard to report on the pandemic's impact on California's county jails and state prisons. See for more information.

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