Jan 4, 2021Michigan cherry farmer pushes to get COVID-19 vaccine for workers
Since northern Michigan received the first doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine almost three weeks ago, many are wondering when they will be able to receive the vaccine.
According to a report by Up North Live, ABC 74, health care workers and long-term care facility residents are among the first to receive the vaccine based on phase 1A of the CDC’s recommendations for prioritization of the vaccine.
But what is the timeline for the rest of those included in the first phase?
“We’re farmers, and as we look forward to this upcoming season, we need to prepare for our labor,” farmer Dean Johnson said. “And one of the big questions is the vaccine.”
Farmers at Old Mission Fruit Co. in Traverse City have been waiting to hear any information about when they will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but have heard nothing.
So, one farmer decided to take matters into his own hands.
“I am contacting congressmen and senators to ask them what they know,” Farm Owner Dan Fouch said. “I’m contacting health department, but I’m going to keep moving forward with this and hopefully we get some answers that we can speed this up.”
Also according to the Up North Live report:
Because the agricultural industry plays an important role in food production, they are included under the 1B phase for vaccine distribution. Now, farmers are worried about heading into the upcoming season without access to the vaccine.
“Well, because you work so closely with the people that are in your fields and in your vineyards, so you don’t want to get an outbreak with them because if you lose those workers,” Fouch said. “You won’t recover from that, in the very near future it will be devastating to us.”
Fouch said he is willing to do whatever he must to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“If we could organize that group in a way that would I could present to them. Here’s a list of the farmers and the ag workers. Here’s a central location that we’re willing to meet at,” Fouch said. “I would make a database of the people in there, and their information, their contact information. So, if they needed to print labels or whatever they could just come out and be ready to go.”
Many of the farmers at Old Mission are migrant workers, and figuring out the timeline for when those employees can get the vaccine is another question farmers don’t have the answer to yet.
“Along those lines of thinking, we do not have enough housing to separate them, they’re supposed to be quarantined for a couple of weeks, we don’t have the rooms to do that,” Fouch said. “So for us, they come in. Nice, like I say already vaccinated. But then again, they’re going to have to have two vaccines so I don’t know how this is going to work. In other words, we’re all up in the air.”