WASHINGTON— The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) sent a letter to all 50 US governors urging them to prioritize the COVID-19 vaccination for front-line meat and poultry workers.

The Dec. 23 joint statement expressed support for the quick vaccination of the 500,000 industry workers around the United States, which would maximize health benefits especially in rural areas where health coverage is more limited.

“Health authorities around the world, employers, unions, and civil rights groups all agree - high priority access to vaccines is critical for the long-term safety of essential front-line meat and poultry workers who have kept Americans’ refrigerators full and our farm economy working throughout this crisis,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and chief executive officer of NAMI.

“America’s meatpacking workers are bravely serving on the front lines so that millions of families can put food on the table during this crisis,” said Mark Luristen, vice president of UFCW International.  “To keep our nation's food supply secure as the pandemic worsens, we need strong action now from our elected leaders to protect these essential workers in meatpacking plants. As the largest union for America's meatpacking workers, UFCW is joining industry leaders today in a unified call for governors in all 50 states to immediately prioritize meatpacking workers for access to the COVID vaccine.”

Both groups said that average case rates among meat and poultry workers was eight times lower in the general US population.

The full letter can be found here.