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Province to prioritize meat plant workers in next phase of vaccine rollout

Last Updated Apr 26, 2021 at 8:09 pm MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Employees at meatpacking facilities in Alberta will be next in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“More than 15,000 essential workers at 136 federal and provincially regulated meat-packing plants across the province will be getting their vaccine starting this week,” Premier Jason Kenney said during Monday’s COVID-19 update.

Kenney says meatpacking plants were identified as an eligible group in Phase 2C of the rollout but limited supply delayed that step until now.

WATCH: Kenney, Shandro provide an update on vaccine distribution in Alberta.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says these vaccinations will begin Tuesday.

“In order to vaccinate as many workers as possible, as quickly as possible, a variety of approaches will be used, including on-site clinics, pharmacies, and AHS clinics,” Shandro said.

Shandro added that as long as vaccines are available, workers at the meatpacking plants will be offered at least one dose.

On top of the expanded vaccine rollout for meat plant workers, Shandro announced that a team of researchers from the University of Calgary will begin work at the Cargill plant near High River.

“The goal of this project will be to combat vaccine hesitancy by providing translator materials and on-site translators at the meat-packing plants,” he added.

UFCW Local 401 President Thomas Hesse is excited about the announcement but says this won’t be a silver bullet solution for the ongoing outbreaks.

“We need to take workplace issues more seriously. We’re happy to see the workplace is now the focus, the workplace is the place where you can bring COVID-19, it’s a place where you can pick up, or COVID-19 can be transmitted, so workplace safety is public safety,” he said.

Hesse adds that companies need to organize spaces to allow for social distancing and enforce rules around wearing personal protective equipment.