The Nevada Department of Corrections was given a Nov. 1 deadline for COVID vaccinations to be completed.

More than 63% of the correctional staff in Ely were reportedly vaccinated with more turning in vaccination cards according to Teri Vance, Deputy Public Information Officer for the Nevada Department of Corrections.

More than 12% of Nevada prison staffers have requested exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine, the vast majority of them citing religious beliefs.

Prison officials said 285 of the 2,372 correctional staff have submitted vaccination exemptions ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline.

Gov. Steve Sisolak and Attorney General Aaron Ford were informed at an October Board of Prison Commissioners meeting that 227 of those were for religious exemptions.

Vance explained that NDOC has created an Exemption Committee to handle the receipt of religions and medical exemptions. The tracking and monitoring of this report is done as exemptions are received, with weekly meetings scheduled for deliberation and discussion.

NDOC is required to follow the progressive discipline process, which could take up to several months, and all efforts will be extended to each unvaccinated employee, to comply with the regulations.

The department has struggled to boost vaccination rates among staff since the spring. Fearing a potential new wave in COVID cases, the Nevada Board of Health voted on Sept. 10 to require corrections staff and state health workers to become fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, but also allowed for religious and medical exemptions.
In a timeline outlined during a meeting in late October, staff who weren’t vaccinated were expected to receive a written reprimand by late last week.

By Nov. 9, NDOC began specificity for charges of suspension which could take up to 30 days and by Nov. 16, NDOC will start specificity of charges for termination.

As of Oct. 22, there were 611 vacancies reported within the Nevada Department of Corrections across the State of Nevada.