Foster Farms vaccinates hundreds of essential ag workers at Fresno plant

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County is accelerating its vaccinations by adding law enforcement, educators, and essential agricultural workers to the list of people eligible to get their shots.

A south Fresno processing plant hopes to serve as a model for mobile vaccinations.

COVID-19 has gotten too close for comfort for Severiano Solorzano.

"My daughter (had it), my sister-in-law passed away from COVID," he told Action News.

His daughter survived, but Solorzano still worried about catching the virus at work and bringing it home.

He's seen it infect hundreds of co-workers at the Foster Farms chicken processing plant where he's the superintendent.

But Tuesday, a shot calmed his fears. Rather, a couple hundred shots - delivered in an office building by Vons pharmacists who are more accustomed to giving flu vaccines in their stores.

"This is different," said Vons pharmacist Navjot Bisla. "We're in a pandemic. I believe this vaccine is the only important tool to fight this together."

Fresno County gave Foster Farms enough doses of the Moderna vaccine to inoculate everyone at its Cherry facility.

The company says 85% of about 1000 employees signed up to get their shots and they're hoping the rest opt-in before they're done.

They've built the site to deliver about 250 vaccinations per day.

"The best thing we can do is vaccinate these people," said Foster Farms VP of communications Ira Brill. "And I don't think we can ever forget that these are the people that very selflessly keep the food in all of our tables."

Fresno County started vaccinating ag workers last week, but this is the first operation of this size.

Getting a lot of people vaccinated is especially important in a congregate setting like agricultural processing plants, where social distancing is difficult.

The health protection is a big relief for workers like Solorzano.

"For me, I feel comfortable," he said. "My employees also feel more comfortable."

Vaccinations here at the Foster Farms Cherry facility should be wrapped up by the end of the week and after that, the company would like to vaccinate everybody at their other facilities, but there's no guarantee at this point that they'll get any further vaccine supply.
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