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Hormel's plant workers in Austin get vaccinated

The approximately 1,800 employees working at the Hormel processing plant in Austin started to receive their vaccines on March 18, said a spokesperson for the company.

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Employees of Hormel in Austin, Minn., were able to start getting vaccinated for COVID-19 on March 18. Contributed by Hormel Foods Corporation

AUSTIN, Minn. — Minnesota processing plant employees for Hormel began getting vaccinated last week.

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Employees of Hormel in Austin, Minn., were able to start getting vaccinated for COVID-19 on March 18. Contributed by Hormel Foods Corporation

According to Hormel spokesperson Rick Williamson, vaccines were distributed to employees of the processing plant in Austin on March 18. He said vaccinations were done "inside the plant" but was unable to provide details on vaccine type or how many shots were administered that day.

"I don’t believe the whole plant was vaccinated in just Thursday’s event," Williamson said.

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Richard Carlson, vice president of quality management for the company, told Agweek on March 8 that only a few of the approximately 1,800 employees working at the Austin processing plant had been vaccinated at that point. He said the company was in close partnership with Mower County Public Health to ensure a smooth distribution once vaccines were allotted.

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Prior to March 18, only a handful of Hormel at the company's Austin, Minn., packing plant had been vaccinated, a slower pace than packing plant employees in other states. Contributed by Hormel Foods Corporation

Plant workers at Tyson Foods' and JBS plants in Iowa started to get vaccinated in early March and Carlson predicted Hormel worker vaccinations would be around the corner.

Carlson said that Hormel corporate has advocated for the state to prioritize its plant workers in the vaccine rollout, and the company was "a little frustrated about the pace" of distribution early on.

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Hormel officials had expressed concern about the pace of vaccinations for COVID-19 becoming available for packing plant employees. A March 18 event at the company's Austin, Minn., plant helped get more employees vaccinated. Contributed by Hormel Foods Corporation

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"Just those opportunities where we can voice our opinions and advocate for our teams, we're going to do that right up through the point where we can get them vaccinated and hopefully put this pandemic behind us," he said.

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