Vaccine Available To Kansas Meatpacking Workers

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Thursday that every meatpacking plant worker in Kansas who wants a COVID-19 vaccination can get one by the end of next week.

Meatpacking workers are already included in the state’s current phase of vaccination eligibility. But the accelerated effort mirrors a similar drive to vaccinate K-12 school employees.

“We didn’t come in and prioritize anybody other than a generic category in phase two until we did the teachers,” Kelly said. “Meatpacking workers are right there too.”

Kansas has roughly 10,000 meatpacking workers statewide, and Kansas accounts for roughly 20% to 30% of the nation’s beef processing capacity.

Appearing in a virtual news conference, Kelly was joined by Tim Klein, CEO of National Beef, and Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam.

“National Beef is grateful to all the partners who have helped provide vaccines for the meat processing industry’s essential workers,” Klein said. “We especially appreciate the efforts of the state of Kansas, local health departments, and the UFCW2 working hand-in-hand with us to offer protection to our employees from COVID-19.”

“Throughout this pandemic, meatpacking plant workers have stepped up to maintain the food supply chain successfully,” Kelly said. “We owe them our gratitude for keeping food on the shelves and the plates of families across our state, our nation, and the world.”

According to Kansas Department of Health and Environment data, the industry’s 28 outbreaks have been responsible for 24 deaths, 120 hospitalizations and nearly 4,000 COVID-19 cases.

 

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