OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Meat packing plants in Douglas County will receive COVID-19 vaccines starting next week. The Douglas County Health Department has partnered with One World Community Health Centers and Matrix Medical Network to administer the vaccines to eight local meat and food processing plants.
Meat packing plant workers are in group 1b of vaccinations.
Meat packing and food processing plants struggled to adapt to COVID-19 back in 2020. The consequences were seen almost immediately.
"Our data showed very clearly that after we had outbreaks in long term care facilities, we then had outbreaks in meat packing," Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said.
In May, Nebraska meat packing plant workers accounted for nearly one in six COVID-19 cases in the entire state.
Vaccine distribution will be happening on-site.
This is coming to the facilities, coming to the workers, they do not have to take off of work. So I hope everybody is going to take advantage for it," Dr. Pour said.
The first confirmed facility to start vaccinations is Nebraska Beef. One World employees and volunteers will administer the vaccines starting next Saturday.
Nebraska Beef, Quality Pork, Skylark Meats, JBS and Greater Omaha Packing Co. will be vaccinated on-site by One World. The Tyson and Smithfield plants will be vaccinated by Matrix Medical Group and the Douglas County Health Department will also be working with a meat packing plant to help administer vaccine.
“This is reaching the population that should be reached. Where it was hard hit," said One World Community Health Centers CEO Dr. Andrea Skolkin.
Many of the meat packing plants in Douglas County are located in South Omaha.
"These meat packing plants and food processing plants are one of the major industries in the community," Senator Tony Vargas said.
Vargas belongs to Nebraska's seventh district, which includes the South Omaha area. Earlier in 2020 he introduced a bill to increase protections for meat packing plant workers after outbreaks continued to scathe the community.