Farm, Food Workers Lagging When It Comes To COVID Vaccinations

Photo: April Clayton

Despite being hard hit by COVID-19 infections throughout this pandemic, food and farm workers continue to find it challenging to get the coronavirus vaccination. Professor Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, a food justice expert at Syracuse University, acknowledges there are many populations interested in the vaccine, including the elderly, teachers and other essential workers. But she noted, without farm and food workers, food shortages can be an issue.

She said to help move farm workers further up the line, industry wide advocacy becomes even more important.

“Talking to people in their state legislatures and their governors, reaching out to people at the state level, because I think one kind of tragedy of this whole process is how compartmentalized it is at the state and county levels.  We don’t have a national effort right now.”

Being permitted to receive the vaccination is only part of the battle. She said it’s important that the Ag industry communicates with workers, letting them know the vaccine is safe and a vital step when it comes to their individual health or the health of their entire family.

“So I think that making sure that we get over those barriers is going to be really, really huge.  And I think unfortunately the populations that are the most vulnerable, especially our immigrant populations…are also those that have the least access to the internet, that have the last access to this kind of information that they need to make the right decisions for their health and their family.”

Professor Minkoff-Zern added transportation can also be a stumbling block when it comes to vaccination, so she advises managers and farm owners to offer rides to ensure workers get their shot when their time comes.

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