Regulation & Legislation

Should Essential Retail Workers Get Vaccine Priority?

Retail, food, agriculture groups ask President Trump to consider front-line employees in distribution
Casey's worker wearing a mask
Photograph courtesy of Casey's General Stores

WASHINGTON — In a joint letter to President Trump, a group of national retail, agriculture and food associations has requested vaccine priority for essential workers, citing the importance of keeping agricultural and food supply chains healthy during the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter states that although the president previously deemed the food and agriculture sectors as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, these sectors have nonetheless struggled during the pandemic and are requesting vaccine prioritization of their essential workers once one is approved.

The letter also notes that the president’s current COVID-19 vaccination program, the  Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations —dubbed the Playbook—prioritizes four groups: healthcare personnel, non-healthcare essential workers, high-risk adults with underlying medical conditions and people ages 65 and older.

“As described in the Playbook, we strongly support prioritizing essential workers in critical infrastructure industries, including those responsible for ensuring the continuity of our nation’s food supply,” the letter said. “Prioritizing vaccinations for food, agriculture, retail and CPG workers will be a key intervention to help keep workers healthy and to ensure that agricultural and food supply chains remain operating.”

According to the letter, these associations are encouraging the president and his administration to advocate for their prioritization “as soon as possible.”

“Furthermore, we urge the administration to leverage state and local cooperative public health organizations, such as the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and National Association of County and City Health Officials, which provide for addressing challenges that may arise and can help ensure consistent communication nationwide,” it said.

These associations said they will continue fulfilling their duties as critical infrastructure industries and look forward to partnering with the administration to reinforce the importance and safety of vaccinations, as well as ensuring their essential workers can access and receive vaccinations when available.

The associations listed in the letter include:

  • American Bakers Association
  • American Frozen Food Institute
  • Consumer Brands Association
  • FMI - The Food Industry Association
  • Global Cold Chain Alliance
  • International Dairy Foods Association
  • National Automatic Merchandising Association
  • National Confectioners Association
  • National Grocers Association
  • National Restaurant Association
  • North American Millers Association
  • North American Meat Institute
  • Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association
  • SNAC International
  • United Fresh

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