Vaccine is Expected to be Available End of March or Early April
BUFFALO, Minn. – The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) is excited Governor Walz designated food processing workers next in line for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. This group includes those working in turkey facilities throughout the state. Workers can expect eligibility to open at the end of March or beginning of April.
“The pandemic highlighted what we farmers knew all along,” said Paul Kvistad, turkey farmer and MTGA President. “Our turkey processing workers are extremely important in getting our turkeys from the farm to the grocery store and this vaccine will help keep them safe.”
Once 70 percent of Minnesota’s 65 and older population is vaccinated, the Minnesota Department of Health will allow food processing workers to receive the vaccine. Currently, more than 53 percent of Minnesota’s 65 and older citizens are vaccinated. With the introduction of the most recent Johnson and Johnson vaccine, it is hoped this goal will be reached sooner rather than later.
“Keeping workers in the industry safe has been a priority since the start of the pandemic,” said MTGA Executive Director Sarah Anderson. “Prior to the vaccine even coming to Minnesota, MTGA asked the state to focus on vaccinating food processing workers as soon as possible.”
Deemed essential, teams at turkey facilities across the state acted quickly to further enhance worker safety protocols to include the latest COVID-19 prevention methods, based on guidance from the CDC and state health officials. Today, workers at food facilities are provided with masks and face shields, along with other protective gear. In addition, hand washing and sanitation stations are made available throughout the facility. Protocols to implement social distancing have been put in place and surfaces are cleaned frequently as well. These efforts have paid off in keeping workers safe.
MTGA is a trade association representing over 450 turkey farmers across the state. Many of our growers come from multi-generational family farms. Our organization also represents turkey processors and other industry stakeholders. Together, we advocate for the interests of the Minnesota turkey farmer and industry as a whole.