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KUNC is here to keep you up-to-date on the news about COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — Colorado's response to its spread in our state and its impact on Coloradans.

COVID-19 Vaccination Site Inside JBS Greeley Plant Will Inoculate Workers Next Week

JBS meatpacking plant from behind a fence, at a distance
Esther Honig / KUNC

After months of waiting for their turn in the COVID-19 vaccine line, essential workers could finally get a chance to get inoculated as soon as next week.

Kicking off Colorado’svaccine phase 1B.3, workers at the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley will have an opportunity to get their shots during a two-day mass vaccination clinic at the plant next week.

A chart describing Colorado's vaccination phases.
CDPHE Website
Colorado's vaccination phase plan as of February 24. Green sections are already in progress.

“We're hoping that we could get at least five thousand vaccines done,” said Kim Cordova, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 7, which represents many of the plant’s employees. “But again, it really depends on how many folks want the vaccine, how many are available.”

She said the site will be able to vaccinate 300-350 people every hour. The sites have no set end time right now, she added.

READ MORE: Uncertainty Swirls Around Vaccinating Colorado's Essential Workers, Including Whether Enough Will Even Want The Shots

This comes almost a year after the plant’s first massive outbreak, according to the state. Since then, about 400 havebeen infected, including six deaths. The company was hit with afederal fine and is now the subject of a congressional investigation, along with two other meatpacking companies.

“(The vaccination site) definitely is going to help mitigate any further loss of life in that plant,” Cordova said. “A lot of the workers have been waiting for this. We are disappointed that we weren't up at the front of the line here. But I'm glad that we are actually going to be able to start this process.”

JBS, UFCW Local 7 and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters worked with Gov. Jared Polis’ office, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, local health officials and the National Guard to set up and run the site.

“We anticipate high participation rates for our Colorado workforce,” JBS spokesperson Nikki Richardson wrote in an email to KUNC. “To encourage maximum participation, we will not run the facility on Friday or Saturday and we will provide four hours of pay to any team member who chooses to be vaccinated. This is in addition to the $100 bonus we are providing to any team member who chooses to get vaccinated.”

She said the plant has already been vaccinating workers 65 years and older and occupational health staff at the Greeley plant.

READ MORE: Upcoming Clinic In Weld County Hopes To Vaccinate 1,000 Latino Residents Against COVID-19

Workers will be organized by production line to keep the site orderly, according to Cordova. UFCW Local 7 represents around 3,000 workers at the plant, but non-union workers, like U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors, can get vaccinated at the site too, she said.

“We will have translators because we do have around 38 different languages in that plant. And so this is a pretty heavy lift here,” Cordova said. “But we're really excited that our members are going to be some of the first essential workers to receive the vaccine.”

JBS ran a similar site at an Illinois plant earlier this month that vaccinated 700 people.

Updated: February 24, 2021 at 3:32 PM MST
JBS says workers outside of the Greeley beef plant, like its Denver facility employees and other Greeley-based non-office employees, can get vaccinated at the site as well.
As KUNC’s rural and small communities reporter, I help further the newsroom’s efforts to ensure that all of Northern Colorado’s communities are heard.
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