Doctor, COVID-19 really scares me. I've seen so many of my friends contract the disease, and one of my friends even died. I'm tired of spending every day scared of the virus.
I'm really sorry to hear about your friend. You are not alone in feeling like this. In fact, the SARS-Cov-2 infection rate is 5.5 times higher for prisoners than for the general population.
I don't understand. If that's the case, why weren't prisoners among the first people to get the vaccine then?
Well, there's a long history of ethical issues when it comes to doing medical research on prisoners. Vulnerable populations like prisoners need to provide informed consent to participate in clinical trials and if the incentive to participate in such a trial is too strong, then a prisoner's participation might become involuntary.
Okay, I understand why I was not able to participate in a trial for the vaccine, but the shot has been approved since December. Why have none of my friends been vaccinated yet?
I understand your pain. Unfortunately, I don't have a good answer for you.
It just makes me so upset. Especially given the United States' history of both disproportionately imprisoning the Black population and also not giving Black Americans the same access to medical care as their white peers.
You are right to feel hurt. This is another example of unfair treatment of the prison population, with an especially large toll on Black Americans.
I do have some good news. After hearing your pain and rationale, I called my hospital and secure a large enough supply of COVID vaccines for you and all your friends to receive the shot today.
First, I must inform you of all the risks and benefits of the vaccine...
Thank you for informing me of all of that, and I would like to receive the vaccine. I just wish this had been earlier, and my friend could have been saved...