CHICAGO (Reuters) – Meatpacker JBS USA said on Monday that more than 20% of its employees have received a COVID-19 vaccine, while rival Tyson Foods Inc said more than 10% of its workers have received a shot.
Labor unions and meat companies have been pushing states to accelerate the vaccine rollout in the food sector to protect workers and avoid supply-chain disruptions from COVID-19 outbreaks, such as closures of slaughterhouses last year.
Companies are constrained by limited supplies and regulations in individual states and cannot purchase vaccines directly from drugmakers.
“While we are making good progress, there is much work left to be done,” JBS USA Chief Executive Officer Andre Nogueira said.
JBS said 14,000 U.S. employees out of more than 60,000 have received vaccines and another 7,000 are scheduled for shots this week in states including Illinois, Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota.
Tyson Foods said 15,000 U.S. employees were vaccinated in the past two weeks out of a workforce totaling 139,000. The company is expanding onsite vaccinations to all its 24,000 employees in Arkansas and will hold 19 vaccination events in the state through April 2, according to a statement.
More than 1,200 employees were vaccinated March 9-10 at two Tyson facilities in Arkansas, the company said. More vaccination events are planned in California, Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma, according to Tyson.
(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by David Gregorio)