With a focus on safety and maintaining a food supply for grocery stores, restaurants and American consumers, 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,” says 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 will 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,” says 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,” says Angela Sowers, Ford County (Kansas) Health Department administrator.
Availability of vaccines for Cargill employees varies from state to state. The company will continue to work with Marathon Health, local health departments, public health officials, and other strategic partners in all the U.S. communities where it operates to help facilitate vaccinations as soon as supplies are available.
“Helping our employer partners react to the fast-changing landscape imposed by COVID and doing everything possible to keep their employees healthy and safe is our number one priority,” says Jeff Wells, MD, Marathon Health CEO and co-founder. “We’re grateful for the trust that Cargill has put in us over the last six years and are proud to provide this valuable service to their employees.”
During the past year, Cargill has also consulted closely with Dr. Nimisha Kalia of John Hopkins University and the Corporate Medical Advisor group, as well as other outside health organizations in establishing the robust COVID-19 response plan and protocols that have been implemented at its facilities worldwide.