COVID-19 vaccine refusal and related factors: Preliminary findings from a system-wide survey of correctional staff

Erin M. Kerrison | School of Social Welfare | Federal Sentencing Reporter, 2021

In partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC), our team administered an electronic survey to a diverse sample of PADOC correctional staff (n=4,232) about their perceived exposure to COVID-19 while working, perceptions of vaccine safety, and willingness to accept a no-cost vaccination. (1) Across the prison system, respondents from more rural Western regions reported an unwillingness to take the vaccine, compared to those working at sites in Eastern, more densely populated regions. (2) Including those who believed they had already been exposed to COVID-19, respondents that would refuse the vaccine reported doubts about its safety and a general mistrust toward the US medical establishment. (3) Addressing the spread of misinformation among correctional staff—as well as attending to the variation in vaccine uptake that spans categories of personnel race, age, tenure, and position—will require multi-pronged education efforts and a strategic outreach plan that centers the importance placed on the sources of that content.

Federal Sentencing Reporter (2021) 33 (4): 272277