Grocery workers say they can't get vaccines, even as they help distribute them

There are roughly 3 million grocery workers across the county, but only 13 states have started immunizing this group of employees against COVID-19, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

There are roughly 3 million grocery workers across the county, but only 13 states have started immunizing this group of employees against COVID-19, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Data from labor advocacy groups and media reports reveal that at least 170 grocery employees have died and thousands have tested positive for COVID-19. While some companies initially offered hazard pay, nearly all have stopped doing so. CDC recommends including grocery workers in the Phase 1B stage of the vaccine rollout, alongside fire fighters, police officers, and other front-line essential workers. However, states can set their own guidelines. An employee at a Quality Food Centers supermarket near Seattle says although the pharmacy occasionally gives surplus doses to employees at the close of business, only a few colleagues have received them. Some workers, including produce clerks and grocery baggers, say they have been instructed to monitor newly vaccinated customers for adverse effects without proper training, protection, or extra pay. Kristal Howard, a spokeswoman for Kroger, says the company provides "many forms of training" to its pharmacists and other health care workers, such as online modules, patient-safety guides, and CPR/life-support courses. Kroger is encouraging all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and is awarding those who do so $100. Big chains such as Walmart and Target say they plan to provide employee vaccinations at stores and distribution centers when available. In addition, many stores—such as Trader Joe's, Aldo, and Dollar General—are also offering extra pay, free rides, and cash bonuses for employees who get vaccinated.