Colorado Department of Corrections to review COVID vaccine mandate as it scrambles to fill 1,800 open positions |

Colorado Department of Corrections to review COVID vaccine mandate as it scrambles to fill 1,800 open positions

Marvis Gutierrez
Colorado Sun
Located in Canon City, the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility is among the 21 CDOC facilities that would be impacted by removing the vaccine mandate.
Mike Sweeney/For the Colorado Sun

Colorado Department of Corrections officials are revisiting a policy requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for employees as the department scrambles to fill nearly 1,800 open positions. 

The vaccine mandate and testing requirements for prison workers remained under administrative review Friday, and a potential rollback could come this week, the DOC confirmed. 

“Any decisions will be made with the advice of our medical team and public health experts,” Annie Skinner, a DOC spokeswoman, said in a written statement.  “I can’t elaborate further at this time until the review is complete. Once that final review has been completed, we will notify our staff and the incarcerated population of any changes.”


The move comes amid efforts to speed hiring and chip away at a backlog of vacancies that has swelled to nearly one-quarter of the DOC’s 8,000-person workforce, fueling safety concerns among workers at state prisons

“Folks are working 16-hour shifts. Sometimes people are doing it twice a week; they’re exhausted. It’s creating dangerous situations within the facility and even when they leave the facility,” said Madeline Griffith, a spokeswoman for WINS, the state workers union. “Simple mistakes are happening. It’s the exhaustion.”

In January, the state prison system lowered the minimum age of prison guards to 18 from 21 in hopes of drawing more candidates, and this summer it began hosting a series of hiring fairs where qualified candidates are given on-the-spot job offers. The department made 239 hires in the past two months, including candidates ranging from 19 to 21 years old, the DOC said. 


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.