Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 59

" Front-line meat and poultry workers
deserve immediate access to vaccines as they
continue feeding Americans and keeping our
farm economy working, " said Julie Anna Potts,
president and chief executive officer of NAMI.
Many governors in states with large numbers
of meatpacking facilities responded to the call
to consider front-line meat processing workers
essential when it came to vaccine prioritization.
As a result, some announced partnerships to
connect state and local health departments with
plants to help distribute vaccines.
In early March, Kansas Governor Laura
Kelly initiated a COVID-19 inoculation program
to help get more than 12,000 meatpacking plant
workers in Kansas their first round of shots.
The vaccination initiative was a collaboration
between plant owners - including Kansas City,
Mo.-based National Beef - labor organizations
such as the United Food and Commercial
Workers (UFCW), local officials and the public
health departments.
" As we learned in April and May of last
year, our operations are critical to livestock
producers and other businesses up and
down Kansas' main streets, " said Tim Klein,
CEO of National Beef, in a press conference
announcing the program in March. " By
providing vaccines, we can achieve a common
goal - protecting our workers and fulfilling
our obligation to provide food for the
American consumer. "
National Beef, like meat processing plants
around the country, invested in measures to
help keep workers safe while maintaining
operations. NAMI estimates that meat and
poultry companies spent more than $1.5 billion
on these measures over the past year.
The measures included screening and
testing employees; installing physical barriers
throughout plants; adjusting production
schedules and systems to accommodate social
distancing during production as well as during
breaks; increased sanitation throughout the
facilities; installing additional ventilation
systems; purchasing and providing personal
protective equipment (PPE); increasing on-site
medical services; and providing education to
employees about COVID-19, how to prevent
the spread at work and in the community and
later information about vaccines.
" We remain committed to continuing these
proven measures, but we can now turn our

focus to the next tool we have in fighting this
pandemic, and that's getting essential workers
in the meatpacking industry vaccinated and
providing them with long-term protection from
COVID-19. "

EDUCATING EMPLOYEES
While meat plants aren't requiring employees
to receive the vaccine as a condition of
employment, companies are working hard
to educate workers on the benefits in hopes
that a large number will voluntarily opt in. At
Tyson Foods, the education campaign on the
benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine started at the
beginning of 2021.
" Our education piece started well before
the vaccine was available, " said Derek
Burleson, spokesperson for Tyson. " We wanted
to let our team members know that this is not
required, but we're highly encouraging it. We
let them know that it's coming, and we want
you to have accurate information to make the
decision that's right for you. "
The information provided to employees
included " myth buster " posters posted
around the plants, videos played on digital
signage throughout the facilities and printed
educational material from Matrix Medical
Network (a clinical services company Tyson
partnered with to bring mobile health clinics
and services to many of its plants around
the country) and the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC). Printed
materials were translated into more than 44
languages to accommodate the ethnically
diverse employee base working at Tyson plants
around the country. The company even set
up a 1-800 number for employees who felt
more comfortable calling and privately asking
questions about the vaccine.
Siloam Springs, Ark.-based Simmons Foods
also started its vaccination education campaign
long before the company conducted on-site
vaccine clinics at its facilities in early March.
" We've made it a priority to inform
and educate our team members about the
importance of getting vaccinated by accessing
resources from health officials, and then
walking and talking to answer questions in
face-to-face conversations, " said Russell Tooley,
chief administrative officer for Simmons Foods.
" We've taken a multi-channel and multi-language
approach to communicating that includes

" Making the
vaccine
available to our
team members
on site is the
next step in
our pandemic
response and
our latest
measure in our
efforts to fight
COVID-19. "
- DEREK BURLESON

www.meatpoultry.com | 04.21 | MEAT+ POULTRY

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Meat+Poultry - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - April 2021

Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 1
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - vdg - 1
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - vdg - 2
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 1
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