Vaccination plans vary for food, ag workers

A lobbyist for agriculture says farmers need to make sure the food and supply chain employees are a priority when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Jordan Lamb with the DeWitt Law Firm says farmers and food processors do not get the same treatment nationwide. “Much of the confusion on vaccine rollout is because there is not a federal vaccine distribution plan. There are federal guidelines, but all vaccine distribution phases and timing have been left up to the states.”

Lamb says in some cases, vaccination schedules are left up to local units of government.  She says the Phase 1A vaccinations are for medical and first responders, with Phase 1B for essential workers, but some states did not initially include workers in the food supply chain for Phase 1B.

She says that changed in Wisconsin after food and farm workers spoke out during the public comment period. “On January 26th, (Wisconsin) DHS released their final recommended list, which included all farmers, farm workers, and food production. They defined this as food supply chain, so that’s pretty much everything from production to the grocery store including on the livestock side veterinarians (and) including on our side, fruit and vegetable processing plants and employees.”

Lamb says the demand for vaccine far exceeds the supply, and Wisconsin Phase 1B workers might start seeing vaccinations available around March 1st. and, “For those of you who are larger employers, contact your public health department to get your business registered so that your employees can have access to the vaccine.”

Jordan Lamb spoke at the recent Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association virtual conference.

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