FDA encourages food companies to vaccinate seasonal ag workers
As the vaccine supply increases in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is encouraging the leadership and management of food facilities to support vaccinations for migrant and seasonal food and agriculture workers.
"When an essential worker gets a COVID-19 vaccine, they protect themselves, their families, co-workers, and their communities," the FDA said in a statement.
"Healthy workers help to ensure the availability of a safe and plentiful food supply. See CDC’s Guide to Vaccinating Workers: Vaccinating Migrant/Migratory and Seasonal Food and Agriculture Workers."
The CDC guide says that a high percentage of these workers were born outside the U.S. and have limited English proficiency. Many of the jobs they perform are temporary, and some workers may arrive from other countries as a part of programs such as the H2-A Temporary Agricultural Programexternal icon.
These workers can be found primarily in crop and livestock production agriculture; meat, poultry, and seafood processing; and food processing, packing, and distribution.
They may also move across regions as food production efforts change with the season, and an influx of workers during seasonal peaks may sizably impact the population of a state or county.
"Protecting these essential workers is important to promoting health equity and avoiding a disruption in our food system," the CDC guide says.
"Sustained close contact among workers, multi-generational and congregate housing, shared transportation, and existing health disparities place these workers at higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19, as well as disproportionate illness and mortality."
For basic information about how to identify and reach workers, CDC has created the Guide to Vaccinating Workers to help jurisdictions identify and quantify sub-populations of workers and then create a specific vaccination plan.
The guidance addresses the unique challenges in and best practices for providing vaccines to migrant/migratory and seasonal food and agriculture workers.
Jurisdictions can use the recommended actions to help ensure that migrant/migratory and seasonal food and agriculture workers get vaccinated.
The actions include estimating how many essential migrant/migratory and seasonal food and agriculture workers are in your jurisdiction for outreach and vaccination, as well as promoting vaccine confidence among employers and workers.
Other actions are identifying appropriate vaccination locations and providers, factoring for successful vaccination clinic implementation and operation, planning for potential side effects, providing a supportive environment, monitoring vaccine uptake and documentation, and evaluating and revising as needed to maximize vaccination uptake.