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More than 2,500 inmates could receive $50 if they get the COVID-19 vaccine

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File

HONOLULU — The Hawaiʻi Department of Public Safety says certain inmates will receive $50 to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Inmates in custody during the period of March 3, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2024, who become fully vaccinated are eligible to receive the one-time payment.

More than 2,500 inmates in Hawaiʻi and at an Arizona facility that houses Hawaiʻi inmates already qualify.

The effort is one of several nationwide. Hawaiʻi received $615,000 in federal funds to pay for the program.

The Department of Public Safety "is doing everything it can to educate inmates about the vaccine and encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” said Tommy Johnson, the deputy director for corrections, in a statement. “We’ve seen a substantial increase in inmate vaccinations that we believe is a result of our education efforts. It is our hope that inmates who are still on the fence about getting vaccinated will participate.”

At least nine Hawaiʻi inmates have died and 2,863 have been infected with coronavirus. Nearly 400 corrections staff have been infected.

Department of Public Safety officials “have been trying to encourage inmates as well as the staff to do it,” state Sen. Clarence Nishihara told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “It protects everybody if they get their numbers up.”

Former inmates who are no longer in custody are not eligible for the incentive program.

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