Essential agricultural workers have been excluded from eligibility list
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (AD-123) and Senator Michelle Hinchey (SD-46) sent a letter Tuesday advocating for one of the state’s largest groups of essential workers to be added back into the state’s COVID vaccine eligibility list. The Chairs of the Assembly and Senate Agriculture Committees are urging the Governor and Health Commissioner to allow all agriculture and food processing workers to sign up to receive a vaccination. Originally, these workers were scheduled to be part of Phase 1B of vaccine distribution but have been since been removed.
“Agriculture and food processing workers were deemed essential workers early on in the pandemic and have worked tirelessly to keep up with the demands of our food supply chain,” said Assemblywoman Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. “The vaccine distribution schedule has recognized frontline grocery workers for eligibility; workers on farms, processing, and distribution facilities should be afforded the same protections. We understand the current vaccine supply does not meet the demand, however these workers should be able to start scheduling their appointments.”
“Our frontline agricultural workers have risked their health and safety to keep us fed through the very worst of this pandemic,” said Senator Michelle Hinchey, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. “These individuals are as essential to our food supply chain as our grocery workers who are currently vaccine eligible. It is critical that they are reinstated as part of Phase 1B of the state’s distribution plan and allowed to schedule appointments so that, once vaccine supply increases, they are rightly protected.”
In their letter, Lupardo and Hinchey stressed the importance of these workers, as well as the role their vaccinations would play in protecting overall public health. In addition to those on farms, agriculture and food processing workers include farmers’ market vendors, employees at food processing and manufacturing facilities, and distributors who transport our food to points of sale, among others. To read the letter, click here.