Accomack Perdue Employees Receive COVID-19 Vaccinations


By Carol Vaughn —

Perdue Farms employees at the Accomac poultry processing plant received COVID-19 vaccinations Monday, marking the beginning of the company’s vaccine distribution to its employees across the United States.
Eligible employees at the facility received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health, according to a press release from Perdue.
Vaccination was voluntary and was administered free of charge to employees at the plant’s onsite Wellness Center.
Perdue is ready to provide vaccines “as quickly and widely as supply allows” as more vaccines become available in other states in which the company operates, according to the release.
“Essential frontline meat and poultry associates have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the continuity of America’s food supply. The health of our people has been — and remains — our top priority throughout this uncharted situation. Today, we’re pleased to take another step in protecting our associates, their families, and our communities through this first round of vaccine distribution,” said Randy Day, chief executive officer, Perdue Farms.
“We’re grateful for our partnership with local leaders at the Virginia Department of Public Health and to Governor Northam as we maintain the safety of our associates as our primary focus,” Day added.
Perdue began planning for vaccine distribution to its frontline workers when it became clear last fall that vaccines would soon be available.
Planning included preparing educational materials in multiple languages about the importance of vaccines, advocating for poultry processing workers to be prioritized, and training Wellness Center staff.
Perdue in December called on the Centers for Disease Control and governors of 15 states where the company has operations to prioritize essential poultry and meat workers and their families or people they live with for vaccination.
Later that month, the CDC recommended states include those workers in Phase 1B of vaccination.
Workers at Accomack County’s two poultry processing plants, Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods, were hard hit by COVID-19 last spring, early on in the pandemic.
Still, it was difficult at first to get details of case numbers related to the plants.
In May, Tyson Foods issued a press release saying around 20% of workers at the Temperanceville plant tested positive for COVID-19.
Of 1,282 employees and contractors tested, 257 tested positive. Most did not show symptoms of the illness.
Of the total positive results, 79 were individuals who were tested either by the health department or their doctor; another 178 were tested at the plant between May 5 and 7.
As of May 6, Perdue had around 175 to 180 cases, all sick people who tested positive, said Jon Richardson, chief operating officer of the Eastern Shore Health District, at the time.
Richardson said 55% of total cases in the district at the time were poultry workers.
Poultry plant workers make up nearly 12% of Accomack County’s workforce, according to the county’s comprehensive financial report.
The Virginia Senate this week approved legislation introduced by Sen. Lynwood Lewis that would require large employers, such as the poultry plants, to report publicly COVID-19 outbreaks.
SB 1362 requires any workplace with 50 or more employees and five or more COVID-19 cases within a 14 day period to publicly report the name of the facility and the number of confirmed cases.
At present, workplaces only have to report cases to the health department.
However, an emergency enactment provision for the bill did not get enough support to pass, leading Lewis to remove it. That means the requirement will not go into effect until July 1 if the bill is approved by both General Assembly bodies and signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam.
In the broader vaccination picture on the Shore, as of Wednesday, 5,118 vaccine doses have been administered in Accomack County and 621 people are fully vaccinated (two doses); 2,659 doses have been administered and 275 people are fully vaccinated in Northampton County.
A total of 9,825 doses have been received to date in the Eastern Shore Health District.

Previous articleAccomack County Administrator Proposes ‘Depleted’ Budget to Supervisors
Next articleCVS Begins Vaccination Rollout, Shore Locations Not Yet Included