COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence in Minnesota's Prisons and Jails

Facilitators and Barriers to COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence and Uptake in Minnesota's Prisons and Jails

The goal of this UMN PRC project is to understand barriers to COVID-19 vaccination and inform intervention strategies to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence and uptake among people who are incarcerated and corrections staff in Minnesota’s jails and prisons. Dialogue with the community informs every stage.

Each member of the PRC team’s 14-member project advisory board has lived experience with incarceration. And many also have family and friends who are currently incarcerated. 

Dr. Rebecca Shlafer, the project's Principal Investigator, says, “Our advisory board’s partnership is essential to our project's success and to our efforts to document and challenge the ways in which systemic racism perpetuates harm against people involved in the criminal legal system and compromises the health of communities. Addressing COVID-19 within carceral facilities is an issue of health equity.”

The toll of COVID-19 is far greater among the prison population than the overall U.S. population. Congregate living in prisons and jails often precludes physical distancing and barriers to personal hygiene, which increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 for incarcerated people and prison/jail staff. Incarcerated people are also at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease/death, due in part to high rates of chronic conditions and limited staff capacity–in the best of times–for corrections healthcare services to meet their complex health needs. Staff also have the potential to carry COVID-19 into facilities from their communities and back out into their communities from facilities, posing a great public health threat to both people who are incarcerated and people in their nearby communities. 

To date, the team has collected information from hundreds of prison and jail staff members (including information featured in this MPR story, Star Tribune story, and MinnPost commentary), as well as thousands of people currently incarcerated in prison and jail settings. The Advisory Board meets monthly with the project team to discuss what is happening with COVID-19 inside of prisons and jails, share their stories and experiences. 

This collective wisdom, paired with anonymous survey data, guides the creation of trauma-informed, culturally-tailored strategies aimed at increasing vaccine confidence and uptake in prisons and jails, including hosting a vaccine clinic at a local jail, developing tailored educational materials for incarcerated people, and facilitating a discussion with jail staff and health care providers. 

Project Team

Project Staff Feb 2022

Project Information

Project Advisory Board

Project Advisory Board

Our project’s advisory board is composed of 14 individuals who have all have been directly impacted by incarceration. Their collective wisdom, expertise, and exceptional advocacy efforts guide our team's work to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence and uptake in Minnesota prisons and jails.

Several advisory board members and project staff at their end-of-year celebration in June
Several advisory board members and project staff at their end-of-year celebration in June.

Advisory Board Member Spotlights

Advisory Board Spotlight 2_22_22


Project Findings

Project Findings 

PRC Survey Summary_Jail Staff_2_2022
PRC Survey Summary_Prison Staff_2_2022
PRC Survey Summary_Individuals Currently Incarcerated in Prisons_3_2022
COVID-19 Vaccination in MN Prisons Infographic
Vacunación Contra COVID-19 en Prisiones de Minnesota Infografía

Minnesota Jail Staff Roundtable Discussion
In January 2022, our project team virtually convened jail staff members and administrators from about 40 jails across Minnesota to engage in a roundtable discussion about COVID-19 vaccination. Two county jails presented their local approaches to vaccination and participants accessed vaccine and testing resources, and shared successes, challenges, and lessons learned from their own facilities. 

In the News
Project Resources

Project Video Series

In collaboration with our project advisory board members, we have put together a series of videos highlighting members and their personal COVID-19 vaccination experiences. You can access the videos at the following links. Additional versions of these videos are captioned in Hmong and Spanish. To request access, please fill out the following form:

If you have any questions, please email Dr. Rebecca Shlafer ([email protected]) or Ingie Osman ([email protected]).

COVID-19 Vaccination Story: Antonio—
COVID-19 Vaccination Story: John—
COVID-19 Vaccination Story: Samantha—
COVID-19 Vaccination Conversation: Mariah & Rea—
COVID-19 Vaccination Conversation: Moncies & Dr. Winkelman—


Funding Acknowledgement

This project is part of a national effort with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) known as the Connecting Behavioral Science to COVID-19 Vaccine Demand (CBS-CVD) Network. Thanks to $500,000 in funding from the CDC over the next year, the U of MN Healthy Youth Development - Prevention Research Center will contribute to the national vaccination effort through local partnerships. The center is one of 26 member centers in the network, which are also part of the CDC’s Prevention Research Center (PRC) network.

The Partnership for Vaccine Confidence (PaVC) is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Prevention Research Centers (PRC) network, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $500,000. The contents of this webpage are those of the UW Health Promotion Research Center and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC, HHS, or the U.S. Government.