Bosses from the meat industry say its workers should receive ‘priority access’ to a COVID-19 vaccine.
Companies including the British Poultry Council, British Meat Processors Association, amongst others have written a letter to the government calling for the demand.
COVID-19 vaccine priority
It comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation published an independent report from on the ‘groups that should be prioritized for vaccination’.
The report lists care home residents and workers, health and social workers, and the elderly as top priority. Meat workers are not featured on the list.
“The nature of food processing means that we have a cold factory environment which is challenging,” the letter states.
“In addition, the rural locations of many meat plants means that workers often opt for house-sharing and car-sharing in the absence of other types of accommodation and transport.
“These two factors that were once simply part of the job, mean that our key workers face extra challenges and a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
“We’re calling on Government to then extend prioritization for vaccinations to include meat factory workers. This would provide much-needed protection and comfort to this at-risk group and the communities in which they live.”
Earlier this year, Dr. Neal Barnard called for people to boycott meat in a bid to protect essential workers.
The plant-based doctor said: “When people consume [meat], we know that over the long run, they can be very dangerous.
“But right now, if you step into a meatpacking facility, you could be dead in two weeks. There is no reason for something like that to occur.
“I grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, and my extended family is all in the meat industry, and they’re good and decent folks.
“Like the tobacco farmers before them, they got involved in an industry thinking they were making a product that was safe and healthful. But, science caught up with them, and we realized that tobacco causes lung cancer.
“That put the industry in a tough position, and it put the workers in a tough position, too. But the government jumped in and supported a transition away from those products. A generation later, that’s exactly where we are with meat.”