Commissioner of Prisons Dennis Pulchan admits there has been a significant slowdown in prison officers and inmates accepting the covid19 vaccines.
In August it was reported that prisoners, along with rural communities, frontline workers and healthcare workers, would be offered the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.
Speaking with Newsday on Thursday, Pulchan admitted there has been some hesitancy among both prison officers and prisoners in accepting the vaccines, despite the efforts of the prison service executive and the Ministry of National Security.
He added that the vaccines were still available to them, but were not mandatory.
"That has slowed down considerably. Let me just say the officers were not as forthcoming as we'd like them to be, and we have done everything possible to encourage them.
"Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds has made it possible for us to get vaccines, but the inmates themselves are also sceptical, and it's not something you can just force on people."
Pulchan said as of Thursday afternoon, an estimated 400 prison officers and 375 inmates had been vaccinated, out of 3,000 officers and 3,600 prisoners.
He said he had taken the vaccine to lead by example.