Fruit production companies in Washington have begun scrambling to make COVID-19 vaccination appointments for their employees, after Gov. Jay Inslee declared all agricultural workers eligible. Oregon is not far behind.
Up until this week, the state of Washington’s phased vaccination eligibility plan had workers over 65 holding an earlier place in line than their younger peers. On Wednesday, the governor announced that all agricultural workers would receive priority access to the growing but still limited vaccine supply.
On March 18, Washington Fruit and Produce Co. scheduled 70 employees for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine at the Columbia Basin Health Association clinic in Othello, busing in many of them.
The Washington State Tree Fruit Association, WSTFA, encourages industry employers to contact their local health districts to schedule individual appointments or arrange on-site clinics.
Also, pharmacists associated with Safeway and Albertson’s stores have federally issued vaccine supplies and told the tree fruit association they are willing to stage on-site vaccinations. Call WSTFA at 509-452-8555 for more information.
In Oregon, farmworkers will have access to the vaccine no later than March 29, said Ashley Thompson, an Oregon State University extension horticulturist in Hood River. One Community Health is the organization administering the vaccine. For more information, growers can visit https://www.onecommunityhealth.org/employers or contact their local health districts.
—by Ross Courtney