Agriculture, Food Workers to Be Prioritized for Vaccine

Gov. Tom Wolf and members of Pennsylvania’s bi-partisan COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force announced a new strategy for targeted vaccinations during a press conference Friday, in which farmers and agriculture workers will be eligible to start receiving the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine by April 1.

Wolf said that everyone in the Phase 1A group (Pennsylvanians living in long-term care facilities, people age 65 and older, and those age 16-64 with high-risk conditions) who wants to get vaccinated will be able get at least their first dose by March 28. He also said that beginning in April, the state will receive a significant increase in supply of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine. This will allow the state to begin targeting frontline workers, including meat processing and agriculture workers.

“Our goal in establishing special vaccination initiatives is to help protect frontline, essential workers and their communities,” Gov. Wolf said. “These are the Pennsylvanians who have had no choice but to continue serving our commonwealth during this pandemic. These workers, their families, and entire communities will be safer if they are vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau applauded the announcement.

“We are pleased that the governor is prioritizing for vaccine distribution the food and agriculture workers who are essential to maintaining Pennsylvania’s access to a safe and abundant food supply,” PFB President Rick Ebert said. “Farmers, their employees and frontline workers throughout the food supply chain have continued to work throughout this pandemic to produce the food that we all rely upon.”

The increased supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will also allow the state to establish regional vaccination clinics throughout Pennsylvania counties. Counties will be encouraged to work within their region to submit a proposal for a mass vaccination clinic, community vaccination clinics, mobile clinics or other strategies to vaccinate their populations.

Wolf explained that the task force is still working through the details of these next special initiatives and will announce more information before additional Johnson & Johnson allocations become available on March 28.