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New York farmers want to be added to COVID vaccine eligibility list

Updated: Jan. 27, 2021 at 2:00 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - New York farmers want to be added to the list of those eligible for COVID vaccines. They’re calling it a top priority.

The New York Farm Bureau held a news conference this week outlining their state legislative priorities.

At the top of the list: COVID shots for farmers.

“New York Farm Bureau, along with our ag partners are pressing New York state to add farm workers to the Phase 1B vaccination rollout as soon as possible,” said David Fisher, NYFB president.

In December, the Centers for Disease Control recommended food and agricultural workers be part of Phase 1B as frontline essential workers.

But, New York doesn’t list them as an eligible group.

Grocery store workers are listed in Phase 1B.

Fisher says farmers also play a vital role in food supply chain.

“We feel we need to be protected and vaccinated and then we can work safely and continue to supply the needed food for the state and the country,” he said.

Bureau Director of Public Policy Jeff Williams says a break in the supply chain isn’t the only concern.

“It comes down to animal health as well. If there’s an outbreak on a farm, a diary farm for example, and people are off work or sick and there’s no one to take care of the animals, it’s going to cause another problem besides the disruption in the food chain.”

A spokesperson from the state Department of Health says because of a lack of vaccine supply from the federal government, New York can’t expand eligibility at this point.

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