Oregon Sen. Sara Gelser announced that she will propose a bill to require flu shots for every inmate in an Oregon prison in the 2019 legislative session.
Gelser tweeted the draft of her bill Tuesday morning. If passed, the proposed legislation would require the Oregon Department of Corrections to schedule an appointment with every prisoner to get a flu shot each year. The same requirement would apply to jails. Inmates could opt out of the appointments or decline the vaccine in writing.
"Easy access to flu shots in jails & prisons is common sense," Gelser said in her tweet.
The proposed bill is a response to a fatal influenza outbreak in Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in January. A WW investigation first uncovered the extent of the outbreak, which infected at least 44 women, and a previously unreported death caused by complications from an untreated flu infection.
After WW's reporting, DOC took steps to better educate inmates about the availability of flu shots and encourage prisoners to opt in and ask for the vaccine.
Tina Ferri died on Jan. 15 after her flu worsened into pneumonia and a staph infection that caused her organs to fail, according to her medical records. Those records show Ferri did not get a flu shot.
Her daughter, Mistina Ferri, filed a $7.5 million lawsuit against DOC in Washington County Circuit Court on Dec. 10.