CDC Prioritizes Frontline Meat Workers for COVID-19 Vaccination
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) agrees that frontline meat and poultry workers should be some of the first vaccinated after health care workers and those in long-term care facilities.
Federal guidance was approved on Sunday by CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Priority (ACIP).
"Priority access to vaccines is a critical step for the long-term safety of the selfless frontline meat and poultry workers who have kept America’s refrigerators full and our farm economy working," said North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) President and CEO Julie Anna Potts in a statement. She applauded ACIP’s guidance and urged state governments to follow CDC’s decision.
$1.5 billion in COVID-19 preventions and supports implemented since the earliest days of the pandemic have reversed COVID-19’s impact on meat and poultry workers, the release said. Meat Institute members have distributed tens of millions of pieces of personal protective equipment, implemented health and temperature screening, radically modified facilities, conducted testing, preemptively paid leave for high-risk and quarantined employees, enhanced air sanitation and ventilation, and much more.
Because of these efforts, COVID-19 infection rates in meat and poultry workers are now more than 8 times lower than in the general population, the Meat Institute reported.
"Meat Institute members stand ready to support vaccination for our diverse workforce, which will also deliver wide-ranging health benefits in rural and high-risk communities. Meat and poultry leaders may also be able to aid vaccination for all Americans, for example by offering state-of-the-art cold storage for these precious vaccines," Potts said.
Prioritizing vaccination for frontline meat and poultry workers is not only supported by leaders across industry, unions and civil rights organizations, but it has also been a key consideration in multiple other countries’ vaccine distribution planning, the Meat Institute reported.
On Oct. 1, Smithfield Foods urged government leaders to prioritize COVID-19 vaccine distribution to food and agriculture workers alongside the nation’s healthcare workers and other first responders.
“Food and agriculture workers are heroes. They have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, ensuring Americans have access to safe, nutritious and affordable food, and they should be at the front of the line for a COVID-19 vaccine as well,” Smithfield wrote to government leaders.
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