IDFA Update on COVID-19 Vaccine Coordination

Michael Dykes, D.V.M. President & CEO International Dairy Foods Association

As coronavirus cases continue to climb across the United States, IDFA is committed to ensuring that the health and safety of our workforce remains the key priority among our industry as well as among legislators and policymakers at the local, state and national levels of government.




The expected transition from a Trump to a Biden administration within the executive branch of the federal government, as well as changes in key House and Senate leadership positions, make this a critical time for input from IDFA and other industry representatives. To that end, IDFA is joining with a number of organizations representing businesses across food, agriculture, retail, and consumer packaged goods to protect workers and keep the food supply chain running uninterrupted.
We want to take this opportunity to bring our members up to date on our efforts, and to provide some guidance for the critical weeks ahead.
1.    Encourage and Facilitate Flu Vaccinations: Getting a flu shot is more important this season than ever before. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the healthcare community are preparing for flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread this fall and winter. There is a safe and effective vaccine to protect against the flu right now. Therefore, IDFA encourages our members who have the resources and capability to do so, to offer flu vaccinations to your employees. Offering flu shots will protect the health of our workers and will build trust and credibility among employees when a COVID-19 vaccination is available for distribution. Increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of getting the seasonal flu shot among food and agriculture sectors is critical to maintaining our supply chains. For public information materials and messaging, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/.
2.    IDFA Has Confirmed that Food Industry Workers Are a Priority Population for a COVID-19 Vaccine: In conversations and meetings with FDA officials, and through recently published materials, IDFA has been able to confirm that food industry workers are considered essential and a priority population for a COVID-19 vaccine. We encourage our members to review the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook offered by the CDC.
3.    Fully Prepare to Partner with Local, State and Federal Agencies to Distribute COVID-19 Vaccinations Among Your Workforce: Because food industry workers are considered essential and a priority population for a COVID-19 vaccine, IDFA encourages our members to have a plan in place similar to how you would offer flu vaccinations on site or to employees. Local, state and federal agencies will rely on partnerships with employers and industry to vaccinate critical infrastructure industry workers. We want our industry prepared to move quickly when a vaccine becomes available. Some IDFA members have reached out and said they are hiring nurses and putting them on standby; creating safe spaces in their facilities for inoculations; identifying sources for dry ice to keep vaccines stable; and beginning to communicate to their workforce to build trust and confidence. Communications resources on COVID-19 are available and updated regularly at the CDC, here.
4.    IDFA Encourages Trump Administration to Prioritize Food Workers in COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and to Build Trust Among Public: IDFA has joined with a number of food industry groups to urge the Trump Administration to carry out a federally orchestrated vaccine distribution program and prioritization of vaccination among key population groups, including frontline healthcare workers as well as critical infrastructure employees which include the food, agriculture, manufacturing, and retail industries. Prioritizing vaccinations for food, agriculture, retail, and CPG workers will be a key intervention to help keep workers healthy and to ensure that agricultural and food supply chains remain operating. In a letter to President Trump, we strongly encouraged the Administration to launch a strong, coordinated, public education campaign to ensure widespread and sustained acceptance of vaccinations and to leverage state and local cooperative public health organizations to help ensure consistent communication.
5.    In Letter to President-Elect Biden, IDFA and Others Offer Partnership for COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts: IDFA and other food industry groups transmitted a letter to President-Elect Biden’s incoming Chief of Staff Ron Klain with the following message: “As we head into the winter months with COVID19 cases climbing and more economic uncertainty ahead, we remain as committed as ever to ensuring our fellow Americans continue to have access to affordable, healthy, nutritious, and safe food. Once a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed and approved for distribution, it is imperative that the federal government, led by your Administration, prioritize our nation’s food, agriculture, and retail workers for vaccination among other key population groups, to help keep workers healthy and to ensure that agricultural and food supply chains remain operating. Our industries stand ready to partner with your Administration to ensure a strong, coordinated public education campaign brings widespread and sustained acceptance of vaccinations among the public.”
6.    Monitoring and Engaging on State Health Orders: IDFA is working with our IDFA members and our state and regional contacts to monitor the continually changing COVID-related restrictions in various states due to the ongoing public health crisis. For your information on these matters, we consider the National Governors Association to be the best, most up-to-date resource for tracking potential orders and regulations. You can find the NGA resource here: https://www.nga.org/state-covid-19-emergency-orders/




I recognized that this is a challenging time for many, and I encourage you to reach out with questions or comments about how IDFA can continue to best position our industry. IDFA continues to provide updates via www.idfa.org/coronavirus. Thank you for your collaboration, cooperation and commitment to our dairy industry. Have a safe Thanksgiving holiday.

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