As the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine roll-out progresses, employees who work in some of the country’s largesy meat-processing facilities are getting opportunities to get vaccinated.

Employees who work at Cargill’s Dodge City, Kan., Lake Odessa, Mich. and Schuyler, Neb. protein facilities will begin having the opportunity to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. The company is working closely with outside medical experts and state health departments on vaccine planning, to ensure it is prepared to support its essential employees in receiving vaccinations as soon as supplies are available, without jeopardizing the prioritization of essential healthcare workers and others at extreme high risk.

“Our response throughout this pandemic is guided by our values – putting people first and doing the right thing,” said Jon Nash, president of Cargill’s protein North America business. “We have been unwavering in our commitment to protect the health and safety of our employees, who are working tirelessly to ensure millions of people have food to eat. We are applying these same values when it comes to vaccinations.”

In Kansas, the company is partnering with Marathon Health to provide its employees vaccinations onsite. The clinic is one of 12 near-site health centers Cargill and Marathon Health have built over the last six years to provide accessible and affordable healthcare to its employees and their dependents. In Michigan, vaccines are being administered through Ionia County Health via a drive-thru clinic, while in Nebraska, employees received their vaccinations through a local healthcare facility.      

“As the largest union for America's meatpacking workers, UFCW welcomes this critical step by Cargill to immediately increase access to the COVID vaccine for these brave essential workers,” said United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Vice President Mark Lauritsen. “We are pleased to work together with Cargill in locations where we represent workers to educate our members on the importance of getting vaccinated. UFCW is urging all companies in the industry to follow the lead of Cargill and others that are taking steps to ensure that our country's frontline food workers have access to the vaccine as these men and women continue to keep our food supply secure during the pandemic.”

The first round of vaccinations will be offered to employees age 65 and older, followed by the remaining staff as recommended by local health departments. Vaccinations at all three facilities are voluntary, and each team member will be provided an additional 4 hours of pay to accommodate receiving the vaccine.

“I am pleased that the Ford County Health Department has the opportunity to partner with Cargill for the health and safety of our citizens and their workers,” said Angela Sowers, Ford County (Kansas) Health Department administrator.

Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE: TSN) will offer free, onsite COVID-19 vaccinations to thousands of frontline team members at its Iowa plants this week. The vaccines are being provided in conjunction with local health departments across the state of Iowa, where food processing workers are among the priority group now eligible for vaccination. 

“We’ve been working with Matrix Medical, Hy-Vee and health department officials across Iowa to prepare for this moment and we’re ready,” said Tom Brower, senior vice president of Health and Safety for Tyson Foods. “We’re pleased to offer our team members convenient access to the vaccine, and we appreciate the state of Iowa recognizing the essential role they play in feeding the world.”

Tyson Foods officials expect many of the company’s 13,000 Iowa employees to be vaccinated during vaccination events later this week at or near company facilities in Columbus Junction, Council Bluffs, Independence, Perry, Sioux City, Storm Lake and Waterloo. 

More than 2,000 of the company’s U.S employees were recently vaccinated either at onsite events or through an external source. Approximately 800 team members were vaccinated February 19 and 20 at Tyson’s Joslin, Ill., beef plant.

Sources: Cargill, Tyson Foods