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BMPA urges UK government to prioritise meat plant workers as early recipients of COVID-19 vaccine

News of a new COVID-19 vaccine immediately raises the question of how best to allocate the first batches of doses when they become available.

24 November 2020, at 7:00am

In a letter to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the British Meat Processors Association, along with the Food Standards Agency and the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association are calling on Government to consider placing the key workers in meat factories on the list of early recipients.

It’s been well documented that the meat industry globally has had its share of challenges during the pandemic; and meat companies in the UK have invested significantly in measures to keep their staff safe and keep the food supply chain moving.

Nick Allen, CEO of BMPA explains: “The nature of food processing means that we have a cold factory environment which is challenging. 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.”

Mr Allen voiced this plea: “Once sufficient supplies of a proven vaccine have been made available to at risk-groups like health and social care workers, we are calling on Government to then extend prioritisation 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 as well as ensuring that the critical food supply chain continues to run smoothly.”