WICHITA, KAN.—Cargill announced on Feb. 26 that employees at its beef-processing plants in Dodge City, Kan., Lake Odessa, Mich. and Schuyler, Neb., will have the opportunity to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

The company said it is working with outside medical experts and state health departments on vaccine planning to give essential workers access to the vaccine as soon as possible without moving ahead of essential healthcare workers and other high-risk individuals.

 “Our response throughout this pandemic is guided by our values – putting people first and doing the right thing,” said Jon Nash, president of Cargill’s protein North America business. “We have been unwavering in our commitment to protect the health and safety of our employees, who are working tirelessly to ensure millions of people have food to eat. We are applying these same values when it comes to vaccinations.”

Cargill partnered with Marathon Health to provide workers with vaccinations onsite at its Dodge City facility. In Michigan, vaccines will be administered at the Ionia County Health Department at a drive-thru clinic and in Nebraska employees can receive vaccinations at a local healthcare facility. 

Vaccines will first be offered to employees age 65 and older followed by the remaining staff as recommended by local health departments. All three facilities are making the vaccines available on a voluntary basis and the company is offering to compensate workers for 4 hours of work if they receive the vaccine.

“As the largest union for America's meatpacking workers, UFCW welcomes this critical step by Cargill to immediately increase access to the COVID vaccine for these brave essential workers,” said Mark Lauritsen, vice president of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International. “We are pleased to work together with Cargill in locations where we represent workers to educate our members on the importance of getting vaccinated. UFCW is urging all companies in the industry to follow the lead of Cargill and others that are taking steps to ensure that our country's frontline food workers have access to the vaccine as these men and women continue to keep our food supply secure during the pandemic.”

Cargill will continue to work with Marathon Health, local health departments, public health officials, and other strategic partners in all the US communities where it operates to help facilitate vaccinations as soon as supplies are available.