I guess I’m not even sure why the question, “As cases soar behind bars, should the incarcerated be prioritized for vaccine?” was asked — it certainly caught my attention.
It seems COVID-19 brings out the best and worst in many of us — all at some level are impacted, a few fearful – and fear can be paralyzing. Fear can drive people beyond rational safeguards, beyond “hunkering down” to selfishness and discrimination.
Hardest hit are the poorest among us, those unable to absorb the impact of losing jobs — hotel housekeepers, restaurant waiters, barbers, etc.
Today, we have a partial solution — a vaccine (but not yet enough) right here in Alaska. And the scramble to decide where those limited supplies initially go is heating up.
Normally we ask, “Where is the need greatest?” and “Who is most at risk? These are the very human questions that should be used to “prioritize for vaccine.”
But your question seems to introduce a prioritizing scheme by separating “good” groups from “bad” — one such group would be “the incarcerated.” This jumps, of course, to emotions, selfish emotions that feed fear and discrimination.
Our Alaska community, I believe, is above this mindset. Impact varies greatly across our community — most Alaskans support needs-based solutions, and whether to prioritize inmates will never be a question here.
— John Hallinan
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