PORTAGE, Mich. – With the shipments of the Pfizer vaccine out of Portage on the way, Michigan’s essential workers -- especially those in the food industry -- are hoping they will be next in line after medical workers to be vaccinated.
For months, workers in grocery stores and the food industry have been subjected to some of the worst outbreaks during the pandemic. That’s why many want to be able to get the vaccine as soon as possible, even with a limited supply.
As the vaccine rolls out to waiting healthcare workers and nursing homes. essential workers are urging they should be next -- as stores continue to fill with holiday shoppers.
“I’ve been asking and keep asking at all levels of government,” said Dan Pederson. “And we need to be on the front wave.”
Pederson is the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers 876, representing 20,000 grocery store workers
The view of the pandemic is also troubling for those workers. Michigan’s covid outbreak tracker shows the food industry and retail shops account for nearly 40 current outbreaks statewide.
According to the plan laid out by Michigan’s first responders will be in the first phase as a top priority, but workers in the food industry will get the vaccine later. They are still part of the first wave with hundreds of thousands of other workers in essential industries all looking to get vaccinated.
“We are in it every day. Second to a nurse or a doctor who’s treating people. We got to be the second highest, so i think it should 100% be available to us in the first wave,” Pederson said.
In the meantime, he is asking shoppers to keep COVID precautions as they pack into the stores for holiday shopping. He said make a list, get in and get out, and be sure to wear a mask properly.
“We all want out of this as soon as possible,” Pederson said. “But the reality is that over the next several months, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. We see the numbers every day.”
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The U.S. has reached a turning point in the coronavirus pandemic after a COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for widespread use by the national Food and Drug Administration (FDA).