WASHINGTON – Three meat association trade groups asked for governors around the United States to prioritize workers in the meat and poultry industry behind “healthcare workers and those in long-term care facilities” for the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), sent a letter on Dec. 4, urging governors to protect workers by allowing them access to the vaccine just after administering initial doses to workers in healthcare and long-term care facilities.    

“Earlier this year the Department of Homeland Security identified food manufacturing as a critical infrastructure sector, which included meat and poultry workers and livestock producers,” the letter said. “Those people have been on the front lines ensuring Americans have access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food. The challenges packing plants and their producer suppliers in particular faced in the early stages of the pandemic were unprecedented and yet were endured. The meat industry is resilient and the supply chain remains intact.”

After the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended its initial Phase 1a of the COVID-19 vaccinations, KatieRose McCullough, PhD MPH, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the North American Meat Institute submitted written comments urging ACIP to prioritize vaccination for meat and poultry workers during the next phase (Phase 1b). NPPC also submitted comments to ACIP.

The associations said that the meat and poultry industry has spent more than $1 billion on procedures and controls to both support and protect employees. Some of measures include “physical adaptations to facilities, personal protective equipment (PPE), enhanced sanitation, advanced ventilation systems, extensive testing and contact tracing, enhanced health care services, and more.”