Food supply chain workers eligible for next round of vaccines

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
Food supply chain workers eligible for vaccine include grocery store employees, farm workers, cattle breeders, vets, dairy and meat plant employees.

Food supply chain workers will be eligible for the next round of vaccinations against the coronavirus as public-facing essential workers.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced future groups which includes education and childcare workers, individuals enrolled in Medicare long-term care programs, come public-facing essential workers, non-frontline health care essential personnel and facility staff and residents in congregate living settings.

The rollout is tentatively scheduled to begin on March 1. According to a news release, the groups were prioritized due to an increased risk of exposure or vulnerability to COVID-19 and are consistent with the recommendations from the State Disaster Medical Assistance Committee (SDMAC).

“We’re going to keep getting shots in arms as quickly as possible and as soon we have vaccines available,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “In the meantime, we have to continue working together to prevent the spread of this virus by wearing face coverings and limiting gatherings with others while we vaccinate folks across our state.”

Food supply chain workers considered eligible in the next rollout include:

  • Agricultural production workers, such as farm owners and other farm employees.
  • Critical workers who provide on-site support to multiple agricultural operations, such as livestock breeding and insemination providers, farm labor contractors, crop support providers, and livestock veterinarians.
  • Food production workers, such as dairy plant employees, fruit and vegetable processing plant employees, and animal slaughtering and processing employees.
  • Retail food workers, such as employees at grocery stores, convenience stores, and gas stations that also sell groceries.
  • Hunger relief personnel, including people involved in charitable food distribution, community food and housing providers, social services employees who are involved in food distribution, and emergency relief workers.

March 1 is a tentative date, dependent on vaccine supply from the federal government. If vaccine supply increases from the federal government, these populations may be eligible before March 1. However, if vaccine supply decreases, they may be eligible after March 1. Currently, Wisconsin is receiving about 70,000 vaccine doses from the federal government weekly.

Due to a limited supply of vaccine, SDMAC prioritized groups for eligibility. These recommendations come after SDMAC reviewed the science and considered nearly 5,000 public comments to provide guidance that equitably distributes the vaccine across the state.

Karen Timberlake

“I know everyone is eager to get protected from COVID-19. With the current allocation from the federal government, it will take considerable time until we have enough vaccine for everyone,” said DHS Interim Secretary Karen Timberlake. “Until then, we have tools available right now to help slow the spread. By continuing to stay home, wearing a mask, physical distancing, and quarantining if you are feeling ill—you are helping to protect yourself and your neighbors. And these practices are critical to our vaccination program.”

Due to the unique needs of each community, local and tribal health departments are leading the coordination of vaccination efforts. DHS is supporting these efforts and helping address any gaps in vaccine accessibility. In addition, Wisconsin’s mobile vaccination program(link is external) allows health departments to request on-the-ground mobile vaccination teams in order to help with vaccinations.

To learn if you are eligible for the vaccine and where you can get vaccinated, visit Wisconsin’s Vaccine Phases and Eligibility webpage. For information, resources, and data related to Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccination program, visit the COVID-19 vaccine webpage.