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Public comment shifts grocery workers to be next in line for vaccine

Over 500 comments in support of vaccinating these workers were submitted.
Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 5:34 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2021 at 6:20 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - On Wednesday morning, the state advisory subcommittee voted on major changes to the Phase 1B recommendations. The discussion came following over 5,000 pages of public comment.

The food supply industry submitted about a third of those comments. Over 500 submissions were from those advocating to vaccinate grocery store employees.

Brendan Scholz of the Wisconsin Grocers Association believes that it’s the personal stories employees shared that made a difference.

“I suspect that if that hadn’t happened, if those folks hadn’t written in, we may not be where we are today,” said Scholz. “I think it helped them understand what these people are going through.”

Tim Metcalfe of Metcalfe’s Markets says he was discouraged at first when grocery employees were not part of the state’s vaccination plan in phase 1B.

“We had to advocate for our employees and our workers and it was really exciting that they did reverse course and include us,” Metcalfe said. “People realize how important food distribution is and how important grocery store workers are.”

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Grocery stores hope they can be part of the vaccination roll-out for the general public.

Scholz says grocers would happily donate their parking lots to be sites for vaccination teams or clinics.

“This is not a small project,” he said. “We’re looking forward to being a part of anything that we can do to help out.”

Metcalfe is hopeful that shopping becomes safer once his employees get the shot.

“I think once grocery store employees are vaccinated that’s going to give [customers] a level of comfort as they come in here too,” said Metcalfe.

The subcommittee will send this draft of recommendations on to DHS for approval. Governor Evers will ultimately sign off on these additions to Phase 1B.

To view the full list of recommendations, click HERE.

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