United States Begins Delivery of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine; CDC Recommends That Frontline Essential Workers Are Next
UNITED STATES - Last week, we reported that Pfizer’s new COVID-19 vaccine would soon be rolling out to both suppliers and retailers as more availability hits the pipeline. On the heels of that recent news, the Food and Drug Administration advisory committee met for a second time in regards to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which has since been approved and began rolling out yesterday. Just after the rollout began, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave its recommendation for frontline essential workers to be the next recipients.
“This is much needed good news as we look to close out the year, and not only for the industry,” Dante Galeazzi, CEO and President of the Texas International Produce Association, said in a message to ANUK regarding this recommendation. “Vaccinating the agricultural workforce is key to keeping food affordable and available for Americans at a time of immense need. Along with the COVID relief Congress passed Sunday, our optimism is growing that better times will be here soon."
In an industry statement from the United Fresh Produce Association, Dr. Jennifer McEntire, Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology, also commented on the CDC recommendation.
"While this is a very strong statement from the federal government, state and local authorities still have the final say in how doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are allocated,” she said. “We are pleased, however, that the incoming Biden Administration is supportive of this priority. United Fresh and allies have been meeting with the Biden team over the past several weeks to convey the importance of vaccinating these essential workers as soon as possible."
The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) also came to the table with its passionate industry advocacy.
“Over the course of the pandemic, it is now clear, we all came to recognize that food industry workers are essential, and they show up daily—on the farms, in processing facilities, in restaurants, and in supermarkets to bring food to our tables,” Max Teplitski, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer of PMA, shared with me. “We urge governors and local health departments to see the critical need that is fulfilled by the food industry workers and to ensure that vaccines are allocated to immunize those who ensure that the food supply chain continues uninterrupted. While decisions to prioritize life-saving vaccines are never easy, PMA expects that our partners in the local governments see the importance of maintaining continuity of the food supply chain and ensuring its continued resilience.”
Further emphasizing the importance of this announcement, Western Growers also shared its statement on the recommendation with us.
“As a nation, our food security is dependent on the health and safety of our agricultural workforce and the viability of the family farms they support,” said Cory Lunde, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communications for Western Growers. “From the earliest days of the pandemic, our growers have taken extraordinary measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in their fields and facilities, an effort that will be bolstered by the inclusion of food and agriculture workers in the second priority group to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”
According to Reuters, a CDC advisory panel met on Sunday and voted 13 to 1 in favor of 30 million frontline essential workers—including employees in the agriculture and grocery industries—to be prioritized for the vaccine.
On this week’s rollout front, The Wall Street Journal stated that McKesson Corp., a large pharmaceutical distributor, began to deliver the Moderna vaccine on Saturday, and the United Parcel Service and FedEx began their deliveries on Sunday. Health professionals at hospitals are being prioritized at this time.
In the coming week, it is estimated that our government will have distributed over 7.9 million doses of the vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer. Already, 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been distributed.
As more news comes to light surrounding our industry’s COVID-19 vaccinations, we at AndNowUKnow will be sure to keep you informed.