Perdue Farms Asks Governors to Make Poultry and Meat Workers Priority to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine


By Carol Vaughn —

Perdue Farms sent a letter to 16 governors, including Gov. Ralph Northam, urging prioritization of meat and poultry workers in upcoming COVID-19 vaccination programs.
Perdue is the nation’s fourth largest poultry producer.
The Dec. 10 letter, sent to governors of states where Perdue operates facilities, urges officials to give priority for vaccination to poultry and meat plant workers and their families.
The letter also urges officials to coordinate with other states to help stop community spread across state lines, noting many poultry workers commute from out of state.
Additionally, the letter urges states to accept Perdue’s offer to help educate the public about the vaccine.
“Our teams communicate daily to a diverse workforce in which more than a dozen languages are spoken. We also have deep relationships in the communities our associates call home, having worked directly with local political, religious, and business leaders. We stand ready to support the CDC and state governments in the important work of education and information dissemination through direct communication to our associates, but also through a broader education effort in their communities,” the letter says.
Perdue also sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control echoing the requests.
The CDC is allowing states to determine prioritization of vaccine distribution, according to the letters, which were signed by Perdue Farms chief executive officer Randy Day.
Perdue has 21,000 employees, including 3,081 employees in Virginia, according to the letter sent to Northam.
“(W)e are writing to you, the CDC, and all the governors of states where Perdue has operations to urge you to place not only meat and poultry workers, but also their families and co-habitants, at the top of the list as vaccines are distributed to those listed in Phase 1b,” the letter to Northam says, adding, “To truly stop the spread of this virus, and to protect the men and women who continue to support our economy and food supply through their essential work, meat and poultry employees — and those who live with them — must be able to receive a vaccine as quickly as possible.”
The letter goes on to say that “a patchwork of state policies that prioritizes different groups may do little to stop community spread” because of people traveling between states on a regular basis.
Perdue Farms is “uniquely situated” in communities with company facilities to support vaccination and education efforts, according to the letter, which notes most Perdue Farms facilities have their own wellness centers, staffed by health care professionals, where employees could receive the vaccine if allowed.
After outbreaks in spring at poultry and meat packing plants around the United States, the companies responded by taking additional safety precautions. Case numbers among poultry workers on the Eastern Shore have been low since then, according to a local health department official.



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