RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY/WRIC) — As of this week, all grocery workers will be included in the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations in Virginia.
The state first toyed with the idea of only vaccinating high-risk grocery workers but has since changed course.
The Virginia Food Industry Association says this is a win for workers. Executive Director Parker Slaybaugh said his organization lobbied for more protection and is happy that they’re getting it.
“We’ve shared with the administration and with the health department how essential grocery store employees have really been on the front lines fighting the COVID pandemic.”
Phase 1b will include Virginians 75 and up, grocery workers, teachers and childcare, police, fire, hazmat, corrections and homeless shelter workers, food and agriculture, manufacturing, public transit, and mail carriers.
The workers keeping Virginians fed are among those next in line for the COVID-19 vaccine. “Our jobs are vital,” Cole Bendel said, a worker at Tom Leonard’s Farmers Market.
When asked about being next in line for the vaccine, he said “it’s kind of a relief.”
Bendel said he will get the vaccine as soon as its offered to him.
“We’re in contact with a lot of people and once we know that we’re safe, we know that we can just do our jobs without any worry,” he said.
“It’s important to make sure that we offer them the protections they need to not only stay working but to keep our grocery stores open,” Slaybaugh said.
The Virginia Food Industry Association represents grocery stores around the state. As the state decides how and when to vaccine it’s citizens, not all grocery workers were considered for phase 1b.
“At different times, there have kind of been different folks included in 1b,” Slaybaugh said.
The state decided to include all grocery workers this week.
As part of phase 1b, frontline essential workers is now defined as:
“Workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society, are at substantially higher risk of exposure to SARSCoV-2, and cannot work remotely.”
Frontline Essential Workers include:
- Police, Fire, and Hazmat
- Corrections and homeless shelter workers
- Childcare/K-12 Teachers/Staff
- Food and Agriculture (including Veterinarians)
- Grocery store workers
- Public transit workers
- Mail carriers (USPS and private)
- Officials needed to maintain continuity of government
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