In partnership with Fresno County’s Public Health Department and Vons Pharmacy, this vaccination program marks the first large scale effort to vaccinate a workforce at a major food processing facility in Fresno County. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Foster Farms has implemented a comprehensive set of employee health protections and mitigations in adherence with CDC guidance, and implemented one of the most extensive COVID-19 employee testing programs in California, administering more than 100,000 COVID-19 tests in the last 5 months, the company announced in a press release.
While these steps are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, vaccination provides the greatest form of worker protection. Foster Farms hopes this program will serve as a model for vaccination at other company facilities and for the entire California food processing industry.
Along with healthcare workers, and adults over 65, Fresno County and the Fresno Department of Public Health have prioritized the vaccination of agricultural workers, recognizing the essential role they play in bringing food to millions of California families. Foster Farms and the Fresno Department of Public Health have worked together closely in the interest of employee health and welfare since the onset of the pandemic. The Cherry Avenue processing plant vaccination program is the result of that collaboration.
“We greatly value the commitment and professionalism of the Fresno Department of Public Health,” said Ira Brill, Foster Farms vice president of communications. “We have fully aligned our resources to ensure the program is successfully carried out for the benefit of our employees and the community. This includes partnering with Vons Pharmacy, tapping into their expertise to oversee administration of the vaccine.”
“The Fresno County Department of Public Health is pleased to work with Foster Farms on this pilot project to learn how large employers can implement vaccination clinics at their worksite including learning communication strategies, understanding vaccine uptake, administering doses in different workplace settings, and providing safety protocols. We want to design a scalable model for vaccination clinics that can be used by other employers,” said David Pomaville, FCDPH Director.
Vaccination at the Cherry Avenue facility is voluntary and will be offered on site, at no cost to Foster Farms employees. Foster Farms will compensate employees for time spent during the vaccination process. Foster Farms has engaged in a multilingual employee communication program to answer questions about vaccination. The company expects that most of the 1,000 employees at the Cherry facility will participate.
The Moderna vaccine is administered in two doses. Foster Farms expects to complete administering the first dose of the vaccination at the Cherry facility on February 5 and plans to administer the second dose in early March. Foster Farms will track employee participation in the vaccination program to ensure that dosage periodicity requirements are met. The Moderna vaccine will be administered on site by trained staff of Vons Pharmaceutical under the supervision of a registered nurse. Vons Pharmacy is certified as a COVID-19 vaccine provider by the state of California and Fresno County and thus far has administered over 10,000 doses.
“Throughout the pandemic, the communities we serve have trusted our pharmacy teams to play a critical role in maintaining their health and wellness,” said Narayanan Ramachandran, Director of Pharmacy for Vons. “We are proud to partner with Foster Farms working in close coordination with the Fresno County Public Health Department to administer the vaccine safely and efficiently.”
Foster Farms is actively working with public health authorities and elected officials in Merced and Stanislaus County to initiate similar vaccination programs at local facilities. The company hopes that the Fresno program can serve as a model for what collaborative public and private partnerships can achieve.
Foster Farms joins the Fresno Department of Public Health in reiterating that vaccination is not a substitute for the continued need to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and observe all other protocols necessary to defeat COVID-19.
COVID-19 represents an unprecedented challenge to all who live and work in California. The COVID-19 vaccination is the most important tool available to overcoming the disease. We look to our leaders in government and public health to ensure that vaccination is widely available as soon as possible, and we know they are making their best efforts to do so. Foster Farms’ Cherry Avenue vaccination program is an example of what can be accomplished when government, public health, and the private sector work collaboratively to the betterment of those who continue to work so hard to keep food on our tables.
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