Deputies and incarcerated people to get vaccinated at Santa Rita Jail

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office is launching a vaccination campaign on Thursday to administer doses to its employees and then later to those incarcerated behind bars.

Sgt. Ray Kelly said in an email that the plan is to vaccination all 1,650 employees who "have been on the front lines serving county residents during the pandemic."

He noted that two sheriff's employees "tragically" died of COVID-19: Deputy Oscar Rocha and technician Valerie Leon died on July 23 and July 24 respectively, resulting in a state investigation and fines issued by Cal-OSHA. 

"This vaccination program is a welcomed relief to our employees after a difficult year of struggles and sacrifice," Kelly said. "Once vaccinated, our employees and the community we serve, will be safer and healthier. The vaccine is our newest piece of safety equipment in our public safety toolkit."

In addition, Santa Rita Jail authorities will begin offering first doses of the vaccine to all incarcerated people beginning the week of Feb. 22, according to court documents filed by Gregory Thomas, of the Burke, Williams and Sorensen firm, who is representing the Alameda County Sheriff.

The first tier will be those considered high risk for COVID-19, which is about 280 people.

Afterward, anyone with other health risks and those living in dorm settings will get vaccinated, and then the third phase will be everyone else after that, the court records show. 

However, attorneys who sued the sheriff over health conditions at the jail, said they have questions regarding how newly booked people will get the shots, how second doses will be administered to those who might be released after their first dose, and what documentation will be provided to people to prove their vaccination status.

Plus, attorney Kara Janssen from the Rosen, Bien, Galvan and Grunfeld firm in San Francisco, wrote that she remains concerned about the population increase at the jail, which is up to 2,180 as of Feb. 10. 

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez