The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday that an estimated 79,000 food processing and agricultural workers will now be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting March 1.
Food processing and agricultural workers were previously part of a group eligible for vaccination starting in May. The moves comes following pressure from workers rights advocates and community health experts to prioritize these particular groups as essential frontline workers during the pandemic.
“The reinstatement of farmworkers’ access to the vaccine in Michigan is a critical step toward establishing trust with the farmworker community. Since Michigan initially shut down in March of 2020, farmworkers have continued to work in-person in agricultural and food processing facilities,” Farmworker Legal Services managing attorney Kara Moberg says in a press release. “They have been subject to testing requirements but have not had access to the vaccine. Michigan’s decision to grant food processing and agricultural workers access to the vaccine beginning in March is vital and organizing mobile vaccination events for the farmworker community will be an important next step.”
Earlier this month, food service workers living or working in Detroit could begin scheduling appointments to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Mayor Mike Duggan announced the vaccination plan on February 2, which includes Detroit grocery-store workers, people working at meatpacking facilities in the city, restaurant employees, and those handling food and beverage. Eligible residents and employees should call (313) 230-0505 to schedule an appointment for their first and second vaccine dose. Vaccinations take place at the TCF Center downtown.
Last August, Michigan began publicly posting its weekly data on COVID-19 outbreaks by setting. This data provides a better picture of what types of locations, industries, and activities are driving new and ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks within the state.
Businesses are currently required by the state to ask for a patron’s contact information for tracing purposes, though they don’t have to do any verification, such as requesting an ID. If someone refuses to provide their contact information, businesses can deny entrance to that person. The state recommends businesses collect and keep contact information on file for 28 days before destroying it, in the event of a COVID-19 case or outbreak associated with the establishment.
Updated vaccine prioritization guidance and information can be found on Michigan’s COVID-19 website.