CALGARY, ALBERTA – Alberta Health Services announced on April 26 it would offer 15,000 workers at 136 federal and provincial meatpacking plants COVID-19 vaccines.

The agency plans to use on-site clinics, pharmacies and Alberta Health Service clinics to offer the shots to employees.

Alberta Health said that meatpacking plant workers were identified as an eligible group under Phase 2C. However, delays in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine supply hindered the start of the program.  

“I’m glad that we can now offer vaccines to protect these valued workers who contribute so much to Alberta’s and the entire country’s food supply system,” said Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta province. “As vaccine shipments continue to arrive, our focus will be getting those Albertans most at risk of severe outcomes vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

Included in this effort to vaccinate meatpacking workers will be the two largest plants in the province: Olymel in Red Deer and Cargill in High River.

A pilot clinic will be held at the Cargill plant at High River which will be led by researchers from the University of Calgary. This clinic will address vaccine hesitancy by providing translated materials and on-site translators at the plant.

“Health officials have long been working on plans to vaccinate workers at meat-packing plants,” said Tyler Shandro, Alberta’s Minister of Health. “These workplaces have certainly borne their share of the burden of COVID-19, and I am relieved and pleased that we can now offer vaccine to this next group in Phase 2C.”

Once the first clinics are finished, any workers who have not been vaccinated will be provided with a letter from their employer that they can present at an AHS immunization clinic or pharmacy to receive the vaccine. At provincial meatpacking plants, which are typically smaller, employers will receive a list of AHS clinics and pharmacies in their area, and a letter that their employees can use to establish their eligibility to be immunized.