Agriculture workers OK’d to get COVID-19 vaccine in March

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SPARTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Health of Human Services is giving people who work in the food processing and agriculture industries the green light to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Close to 80,000 people work in these industries in Michigan. They will be eligible for a vaccine as of March 1 in what the department is labeling a vaccine equity strategy. 

“Workers in higher risk agricultural settings have been adversely impacted by this pandemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, in a press release. 

Nick Schweitzer, the operations manager of Schweitzer Orchard in Sparta, says many of his colleagues want to get vaccinated. 

“I think it’s important for all AG workers to get in line for the vaccine,” Schweitzer said. “We have to get out there every day in close quarters a lot of times, especially when we’re out picking out in fields.” 

Schweitzer says migrant workers come to Michigan because of the wide variety of crops grown in our state. 

“Second most diverse state in terms of crops we grow, behind California,” Schweitzer said. “Michigan, we have a lot of different foods we can grow here.” 

Having to work alongside people who travel all over the country for work is a big reason why he feels many in the agriculture industry are ready to receive a vaccine. 

“They’re picking strawberries and oranges and stuff in Florida, and they move up to Michigan throughout the season as we get closer to our busy season in apples,” Schweitzer said. 

Schweitzer is ready to do whatever it takes to make sure things run smoothly this year. 

“It’ll make things easier in the fall and a lot less hectic and simpler,” Schweitzer said.  

It was also announced Monday that mortuary services workers can start getting vaccinated immediately.

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