TIPP CITY, Ohio (WDTN) – Grocery store employees are considered essential frontline workers, but they too are waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations.
The CDC’s guidance says that grocery store workers should fall within the 1b vaccine group, but here in Ohio, only those 65 and older and school employees will be eligible over the coming weeks.
Vincent Fasone, Executive Director of Famavi Food Safety and lead consultant for La Plaza Tapatia in Tipp City said while grocery workers do not fall in Ohio’s 1b groups, they still have a high risk of contracting COVID-19.
“I personally was a little disappointed to see they weren’t included,” Fasone said. “There’s so many uncontrollables in there that puts them at a higher risk than anyone else, and unfortunately, we’re seeing a lot of them lacking access to health care.”
Fasone said many grocery workers are either part-time or choose not to take health insurance, which can cause complications if they come down with the virus.
“We’ve seen individuals who become infected with COVID, they don’t have any sort of regular doctor, you know, primary care physician, so they just go home and ride it out,” Fasone said.
Kroger is also waiting for doses of the vaccine to become available for their workers.
Kroger Corporate Affairs Manager Erin Rolfes told 2NEWS in a statement:
“Kroger is working with state and local health departments to secure vaccines. As we currently have a very limited amount of vaccine available, we will follow the state’s phased approach. Ohio is in Phase 1a.”
As vaccines start becoming available next week, Kroger will provide them through their pharmacy, more information can be found on their website here.
“With vaccines arriving next week, our helpline will be active starting Saturday, January 16, and next week we will only be providing vaccines to the current phase/included populations, seniors 80+.”
All COVID-19 vaccines will require an appointment through Kroger’s website or by calling their COVID-19 hotline at 866-211-5320.
Fasone is calling for the health departments help support small grocery stores who don’t have in-store pharmacies.
Research firm Ibis World estimates roughly 2.6 million Americans work at grocery stores or supermarkets.