Sheriff’s survey lands in health journal

Boston Statehouse

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BOSTON (SHNS) – As his facility prepared for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian asked the people incarcerated in Billerica whether they would like to get the vaccine and, if not, what their concerns about it are.

Last week, the office’s findings and an article on the survey were published in the Journal of Urban Health.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool, but only if people accept it. Our data show the majority of people incarcerated in jail were not interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and that incarcerated individuals who identified as Black were significantly less likely to want a COVID-19 vaccine,” Koutoujian and his fellow co-authors wrote. “Addressing misinformation and mistrust are the critical next steps for overcoming hesitancy and vaccinating people who are incarcerated and people who work in jails.”

Of the 406 incarcerated people who responded to the sheriff’s survey, 60 percent said they would refuse the vaccination, according to survey results that Koutoujian’s office shared with the News Service in January.

Of those who said they would refuse a COVID-19 vaccine, about 34 percent said they were not firmly opposed and would be willing to change their mind about getting vaccinated. In total, 60 percent of those who said they would decline a vaccine were open to at least learning more about it.

Dr. Alysse Wurcel, an infectious diseases specialist at Tufts Medical Center who has been advising Koutoujian’s office on coronavirus matters since early 2020, is listed as a co-author.

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