Oregon will become the first state to prioritize inmates in its state prisons for the COVID vaccine ahead of seniors and teachers.

The decision to vaccinate the state’s more than 11,000 prisoners immediately was made in a court ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman on Tuesday.

In her ruling, obtained by CNN, she wrote, “From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear that our country's prisons were uniquely vulnerable to the transmission and spread of the virus. Prisons have not been spared from this reality, as COVID-19's toll continues to mount behind bars.”

The Oregon state prison system has had nearly 3,400 inmates test positive for the coronavirus, with 40 prisoner deaths from COVID-19, according to the COVID Prison Project.

Oregon is using a phased-in approach to schedule vaccinations, with Phase 1a, Group 1, including healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents.

Inmates will now fall under Phase 1a, Group 1 and will be vaccinated starting as early as next week, Dr. Warren Roberts, chief medical officer of the Oregon Department of Corrections, told a group of state lawmakers on Wednesday (via The Oregonian).

The shots would begin as soon as the first shipment of 5,000 Moderna doses arrives. The vaccines will be delivered in increments until all inmates that choose to be vaccinated receive two doses of the drug, Roberts said.

Seniors, who are part of Phase 1b, Group 2, are eligible to start receiving inoculations Monday if they are 80 and older. Those 65 and older will can start getting their shots on March 1.

Teachers, childcare providers, and school staff are part of Phase 1b, Group 1 and were eligible for the COVID vaccine starting last week.

Charles Boyle, Deputy Communications Director for the Gov. Kate Brown’s office, told The Oregonian that the inmate vaccination won’t slow shots to teachers or seniors. But Boyle did say that those in Phase 1a may see delays in receiving their COVID vaccine.

Phase 1a comprises about 400,000 to 500,000 people, including 4,600 prison employees and contractors who were offered the vaccine. Among that group, 200,000 are still awaiting their shots, The Oregonian said.

“Because the court increased the size of Phase 1a by adding adults in custody, there will be an impact to the timeline to complete the vaccination of Phase 1a individuals,” Boyle told the news outlet.

“We do not anticipate this court ruling will change the timelines for beginning to vaccinate phase 1b individuals, including seniors and educators — again, however, that is dependent on the weekly vaccine supplies we receive from the federal government.”

No details were provided on how long the delay would last. But Boyle did say that Phase 1b vaccine recipients should be on track for their inoculations in March.

The news of the ruling comes after the Oregon Justice Resource Center filed a class-action lawsuit against Brown and the Oregon Department of Corrections on behalf of seven inmates within the state’s prison system.

In an email to CNN, Boyle said the ruling is final: “The court's decision is clear, and the state has decided not to appeal.”

The CDC data documented the 10 cases of anaphylactic shock among a reported 4,041,396 first doses of the Moderna vaccine
The Moderna COVID vaccine is pictured. AFP / Ronny Hartmann