Will Vermont’s migrant farmworkers be eligible for COVID shots?

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 6:19 PM EST
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FAIRFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - Harold Howrigan is getting ready for this year’s maple operation.

“Seems like we have been getting ready all winter,” he said. “We are looking forward to the break in weather this week.”

But year-round, he operates a dairy farm with more than 300 dairy cows and calves.

Howrigan is also the co-vice-chair of the Northeast Council for Dairy Farmers of America.

He says during the pandemic, dairy has seen strong retail sales but has suffered losses in the food service industry with schools and restaurants being closed.

“We are still in it looking to get through to the other side,” Howrigan said.

Howrigan says most of the help on his farm is family but he does have several migrant farmworkers who live together. When it comes to getting all of those on the farm their COVID vaccine, he is not worried that anyone will be left out.

“When it gets down to the general public just making appointments, we will line those up and go,” he said.

That includes migrant farmworkers.

“Have not heard that they won’t be eligible,” Howrigan said. “As far as I know, everyone will be able to get a shot.”

And advocates agree. The Open Door Clinic in Addison County says they have been working with the state getting ready to help vaccinate anyone who wants the shot.

“We have been registered and in conversation with the state to provide COVID vaccine to all of our patients, including our immigrant patients and farmworkers once that becomes available,” said Heidi Sulis of the Open Door Clinic.

The Vermont Department of Health was unable to clarify the rollout for farmworkers.

The Open Door Clinic says that they expect to administer shots on the farms, something they already do for flu shots.

“It will likely to do a lot of vaccine on farms and in the field, so to speak,” Sulis said.

That means good news to help get life back to normal on farms across the state.

“When it’s our turn, we will take it,” Howrigan said.

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