CALGARY — After some delays, the province has launched a targeted COVID-19 vaccination program for 15,000 meatpacking plant workers across the province including the Cargill plant near High River.
The Cargill vaccine clinic is being staffed by a team of Cargill employees including nurses, under the supervision of local physicians.
According to the province, the initiative was scheduled to begin earlier this month but was postponed as a result of shipping delays with the Moderna vaccine.
In the spring of 2020, the virus spread through the Cargill plant becoming, at one point, the largest outbreak in North America.
Two workers died of COVID-19, as well as the father of a worker.
Cargill has faced legal challenges and criticism about workplace safety from the onset of the pandemic.
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 401, the union representing the workers, say that 75 per cent of members have booked appointments.
“Society can see that the spread of the virus in this plant is a lot worse than in what we experience in everyday society,” said Ricardo de Menezes, UFCW Local 401 director, southern Alberta. “People are in close proximity all day long, eight hours a day. Perhaps the temperature and the atmosphere allows for the virus to spread more quickly.
“It’s scary. They’re happy to be given this opportunity.”
Researchers from the University of Calgary are leading a pilot program to provide translators on site and information in multiple languages to address potential vaccine hesitancy.
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