Governor Newsom Criticizes COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for California Correctional Officers


By Jacqueline Nguyen

CALIFORNIA— With California passing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all unionized guards and peace officers, Governor Newsom and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) warns that the threats of an exodus in California state prisons are not empty. 

Previously, on Sept. 27, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar ruled that all prison guards must be vaccinated against COVID-19, effective Oct.15. However, just one day prior to its effective date, Kern County Judge Bernard, pleaded by both Governor Newsom and the CCPOA, granted a preliminary injunction, temporarily putting a halt to the order so that the case could get a new hearing by the U.S. Ninth Circuit.

On Oct. 27, the case was once again looked over and it was ruled that those covered by the mandate must comply by Jan. 12, which is eleven weeks from the date of this order, and more than fifteen weeks since the Court originally set the mandate.

Governor Newsom argues that, with this order, many correctional officers will leave their job before they are forced to submit a COVID-19 vaccine. This exodus will arguably plunge the 34 California state prisons into a chaotic crisis as it could wreak more havoc than good for the incarcerated. Housing over 95,000 incarcerated people, the state prisons are considering leaving the incarcerated locked in their cells for most of the day if they are short staffed.

The threat of an exodus of California’s state prisons is worrying as it could ramify into worse living conditions though its initial aim is to alleviate prisoners from the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. 

Aparna Komar, the founder and director of the Covid In-Custody project, points out with her quantitative and qualitative reports on CDCR and county jails that “On Aug.19, there had been a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, those working in jails and prisons included, because they are high risk.”

Thus, as of Oct. 14, its effective date, healthcare workers at California State prisons, obliged. Will correctional officers oblige too or will an exodus occur?

Aparna also shines light on the fact that “prison systems are returning back to normal operations, especially in terms of population.” So, with prison populations growing and developing towards pre-pandemic numbers, as well as almost half of the COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons linked to staff members, it’s concerning that there are not many more correctional officers receiving vaccinations.

In state prisons, only about 36,000 of the 57,000 staff members are fully vaccinated, creating a dangerous environment for incarcerated people, workers, and their families.

As Governor Newsom and CCPOA continue to fight the orders, there’s no clear telling just yet if there will be an exodus and what that would mean for California’s incarcerated population.


About The Author

Jacqueline Nguyen is a writer for The Vanguard at Berkeley's prison reform desk. She is a second-year cognitive student at UC Berkeley and is originally from Huntington Beach, CA.

Related posts

11 thoughts on “Governor Newsom Criticizes COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for California Correctional Officers”

  1. Ron Oertel

    I’m becoming less of a fan of vaccine mandates, but it sounds like the governor is supported by the prison guard union.

    Then again, I guess he supports the closure of that prison up by Susanville, in the state of Jefferson (where he’s also the “governor”).

  2. wesleysagewalker

    Fire every guard who does not comply. Time to clean house. No need for tax payer money to support scientifically illiterate trolls. This is a great chance to wipe the slate clean throughout the public sector and get rid of the intellectually bereft. This may be the golden opportunity to conduct mass firings which the unions won’t be able to jam up on a case by case basis like in times past.

      1. Bill Marshall

        It will never happen because Newsom doesn’t want to p*ss off the prison guard union.

        Darn straight…

        But it should happen… but not with Gov election only 11 mos. off.

        Craven Gavin Newsom will “follow the money”, not science, not ethics.  I just hope the Demos or Reps will put up a credible alternative(s) this coming year. His moral compass seems to be attuned to the $$$/votes/self-interest ‘North Star’ (actually compasses are attuned to ‘magnetic north’, which would probably be a better analogy anyway) …

      1. Alan Miller

        The curtain has been pulled back, and there is the “wizard”.  In his underwear.

        But the voters see a man with pants.

        What’s wrong with this picture?

        1. Bill Marshall

          Actually, the voters don’t realize that the pants (and perhaps the briefs) are ‘some new’ clothes for the Guv… and change with the wind… caveat emperor:  the Guv will still reign if he does not have a credible challenger in 2022… he had none in 2021… everyone seems to miss where moderate, slightly conservative Democrats, moderate Republicans, and NPP’s are ‘coming from’…

          As Bonnie Tyler might sing, “We Need a Hero”… someone more focused on governing, and serving, rather than someone who is “self-serving” (a person “who would be King [or Queen], and President… CA (and the nation?) is all over the place on needs/desires/preferences… we need a LEADER/healer/hero… an ideal Governor.

          Newsom does NOT meet those ‘ideal applicant’ skill sets… have not yet seen anyone who does… seems we’re doomed to the divisive/partisan, “I’ll say/do anything to remain in power”, “it’s all about me and my core supporters’ values”… true on both “sides of the aisle”… we’ve all seen it @ State and Fed levels… if you look at it honestly… IMHO…

  3. Alan Miller

    Governor Newsom and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) warns that the threats of an exodus in California state prisons are not empty.


    Governor Newsom argues that, with this order, many correctional officers will leave their job before they are forced to submit a COVID-19 vaccine.

    What a schmuck.  Instead of doing his job standing up to the public sector unions, he makes their arguments – nee, their threats, for them.  Does anyone need further evidence of the corruption of public sector unions and how deep into the government it goes?  Newsom isn’t even ashamed to publicly assert these union threats himself.

    But I’ve got the t-shirt:  “Don’t Blame Me – I Voted to Recall Newsom”

    1. Bill Marshall

      But I’ve got the t-shirt…

      Where can I get one?  If they also come in women’s sizes, sure I spouse would want one… maybe I’ll just get the T-shirts, and have Ink-Monkey do the silk-screen… supporting local business…

  4. Bill Marshall

    What other ‘orders of a Court’ do the correctional officers, law enforcement in general intend to ignore/fight?  City and County of Denver are so far holding firm…

    Denver vaccine mandate ousts dozens of first responders who won’t comply | FOX31 Denver (

    Mayor Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for Employees – City and County of Denver (

    Judge dismisses lawsuit filed by Denver officers seeking to block vaccine requirement (

    Health leaders urge Polis to mandate masks, vaccine requirements | News |

    Wide variety of sources…

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for