Maura Healey Sees Vaccines as Mandatory for Correction Officers and State Police

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By Katie Lannan
State House News Service

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said Monday that she believes correctional officers and members of the State Police should be required to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

“It seems to me that if you’re going to sign up, and sign up to be a correction officer, you need to do what is required,” Healey said during a radio interview. “Now, if there are particular health reasons that are presented, I understand that, but it can’t be because you don’t believe in vaccines. That is part of your job, and if you’re unable to do it and safely take care of those who are incarcerated and captive and can’t control what is coming into and out of the prisons, then I think they ought to be looking for another line of work.”

Correction officers and incarcerated people were made eligible in January as part of the first phase of the state’s vaccine rollout, after health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, and first responders. Though the vaccines are available to those populations, they are not required.

During an interview on GBH radio, Healey answered a question about whether shots should be mandated for correctional workers with “I don’t see why not.” Asked if she thinks COVID-19 vaccines should be required for the State Police, she said, “Look, if you’re going to serve and do your job, yeah, I do believe that.”

The attorney general said she was not speaking from a legal perspective but was “answering this question as a matter of what’s right.”

“If there are certain conditions that you have that preclude you from a vaccination, I understand that,” she said. “But if you’re going to sign up for public work and receive a paycheck from the taxpayers of this state who have sacrificed and lost so much — I’m thinking, too, of our small businesses, right, the whole economy, the devastation of our communities and devastation to communities of color, the heartaches. Think about the deaths of residents in so many nursing homes around the state — you can’t wear a mask? You can’t get a vaccination? It’s irresponsible.”

Gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing, an East Boston Democrat and former state senator, said last week that he believes State Police, other first responders and teachers should be required to get the vaccine as a condition of their jobs. Healey, a Charlestown Democrat, has long been eyed as a potential candidate for governor in 2022.

Healey said she thinks “things are going better” now in the state’s vaccination efforts after some “real snafus and mishandling with respect to the initial rollout,” particularly regarding the technical issues with the state’s vaccine web site.

“Look, the Baker administration screwed up. They needed to make adjustments, they’ve made adjustments,” Healey said. “We hope to continue to see the vaccines come into the states.”

Healey visited a regional vaccine location in Randolph last week, and has also made trips to community-based sites in Chelsea and Mattapan. She said it’s important that locations like those continue to receive doses along with large-scale operations like the one set up at Gillette Stadium.

“One of the things I’ve been talking about all along is the need for equity and making sure that vaccinations get delivered to those who are the most vulnerable, to those who have been hardest hit,” Healey said. “We cannot sacrifice equity for efficiency.”