Food processing, mortuary workers will soon be able to get COVID vaccine 

    Tyson workers have had plastic dividers separating them on the production line. | Photo provided by Tyson Fresh Meats

    The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced on Monday a new program to enhance the state’s equity strategy to reach more Michiganders with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.

    “Workers in higher risk agricultural settings have been adversely impacted by this pandemic. We also know that we need to remove barriers to vaccine access for our most vulnerable individuals in Michigan, including those with disabilities, lower income, and racial and ethnic minorities,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. ”These steps will allow our federally qualified health centers across the state to begin vaccinating and will prioritize vaccine allocation to partnerships and providers who are removing barriers to access. This strategy is important as we move forward with our goal to equitably vaccinate 70% of Michiganders over age 16 and over as quickly as possible.”

    Starting immediately, mortuary service workers, who routinely work with infectious materials, will be able to be vaccinated as part of group 1A in accordance with CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations. 

    In addition, 41 federally qualified health centers across the state will start receiving vaccine allocations to help vaccinate individuals age 65 and older. These community health centers are located in medically underserved areas to provide high-quality, affordable and comprehensive medical services to everyone – regardless of who they are, where they come from or their ability to pay. 

    Finally, workers in food processing and agricultural settings, about 79,000 Michiganders, will be able to be vaccinated as of March 1. DHHS said this will help ensure the health and safety of Michigan’s essential food and agriculture workers and keep the state’s food supply chain moving. 

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.