Wisconsin grocers push for phase 1B vaccination inclusion

Recurring 10 p.m. news recording
Published: Jan. 16, 2021 at 11:35 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -Grocery store workers are currently not included in Wisconsin’s phase 1B vaccination plan, and some advocates are pushing for the industry to be vaccinated.

“We were considered critical essential workers,” Tim Metcalfe, Metcalfe’s Market owner said. ‘Without essential workers in the food industry, there aren’t grocery stores. There isn’t food at your table.”

Scanning groceries and keeping food in pantries is what grocery store workers continued to do amid the pandemic. Grocers didn’t stop checking out customers as covid cases increased across the state.

“When everybody was safe at home, we were here,” Metcalfe said.

Grocery employees are faced with hundreds of customers per day. Metcalfe said it’s time grocers get the vaccine.

“So I wrote that letter to advocate for not just my employees, but all grocery store workers here in the state of Wisconsin,” he said.

He sent the letter to Gov. Tony Evers and other top officials charged with making the decisions. He urged officials to include grocery workers in the next round.

“I was shocked. I was speechless because we had no answers. We had no explanation. There was no rationale,” Brandon Scholz, Wisconsin Grocers Association president said.

He said his phone line has been busy with grocery workers baffled over the decision.

“The message to grocery store workers? You’re just not that important anymore so we’re going to put you in with the general public,” Scholz said.

The CDC recommends grocery store workers are vaccinated in the second phase alongside other frontline essential workers.

Scholz said the state needs to follow the federal guidance or over 60,000 grocery workers across the state will be impacted.

“We don’t understand. We’re like wait a minute. We’ve been important up until now, and now we’re not so important anymore. What are we supposed to do?” he said.

“Getting these employees vaccinated as soon as possible is important,” Metcalfe said

The public can comment on the recommendations for the next phase through Monday at 4 p.m. You can find information on how to email DHS, here.

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