TOPEKA, KAN. – In anticipation of the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, many state lawmakers have outlined priorities for distribution. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said in a conference call on Dec. 4, that employees of meatpacking plants will be near the top of the priority list. Kelly said the first phase of distribution and administration of the vaccine would include health care providers working directly with COVID-19 patients as well as workers and residents at long-term care facilities.

Phase two of the plan will include distribution to those people deemed to be essential workers, such as those in agriculture and food production; grocery store and meat and poultry plant workers; first responders; health care and emergency service providers and other public service workers and federal government workers. According to estimates from the governor’s office, 150,000 Kansans will receive a vaccine by the end of December.

Kelly qualified her comments by stating the announced plans are subject to change.

“As happened early on in the pandemic, I anticipate information and guidelines will be amended and evolve rapidly,” she said.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) applauded Kelly’s decision, stating that agricultural and meatpacking employees, many of whom are Latinos, are responsible for delivering goods and services that are critical to maintaining the food supply chain.

“LULAC supports Kansas Governor Laura Kelly who said meatpacking plant workers and grocery store employees are essential workers putting them in line for coronavirus vaccines. Tens of thousands of essential workers got up before dawn today and went back as they do every day, into the agricultural fields and meatpacking plants across our country to provide the food that feeds us,” said Domingo Garcia, LULAC’s national president. “LULAC is calling for prioritization of distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to food and agricultural workers alongside our nation’s doctors and nurses plus first responders. Food and agricultural workers are heroes. They have been on the front lines of the pandemic, ensuring American’s have access to safe, nutritious, affordable food and they should be at the front of the line for the vaccine as well.