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Olmsted County reminds agricultural workers they are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine

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Hoping to spread the word among essential community members, Olmsted County Public Health reminds farmers and agricultural workers that they are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Minnesota.  

Amy Evans, COVID-19 Planning Chief, said Public Health staff have been successful in the past few months getting residents registered to receive the vaccinations, but they’ve hit a snag with Phase 1b Tier 3 population, which includes agricultural workers. 

“We know that we can reach out to some of the individuals through farm implement dealers and township officers, but ultimately it is hard to get to all of these individual agricultural businesses in Olmsted County,” Evans said. “Those individuals are not always connected to a large employer.”

Olmsted County Public Health does have a business form online to register and make appointments. Evans explained the vaccine is available based on priority groups. Public Health can use those completed forms to distribute information to contacts so they can notify their employees when it is time to register for the vaccine as well as where and when they can receive it. However, that can be challenging with individual family farms who may not have easy access to the internet or water cooler talk in an office to gain information. 

“They may already know that they are eligible, but may not know how to actually get registered for those appointments,” Evans said. “We know our farmers are probably going to get really busy soon as they are looking to get into the fields. We want to get them in and get vaccinated now when things are not quite so busy.”

Olmsted County’s Public Health website has that vaccine sign-up information, but people with internet difficulty can also call the COVID hotline at 507-328-2822. Evans admitted the phone call will be more time-consuming than signing up online, but it is an additional option.

The Moderna vaccine is available for agricultural workers 18 and older, and Pfizer’s vaccine can be administered to those 16 and older. 

Evans said Public Health has open vaccination appointments that people can take advantage of as quickly as possible. In addition to agricultural workers, those involved in harvesting timber or fish are eligible for the vaccine. 

“We just want to get the word out and encourage people to get registered,” she said. 

In addition to travel time, those planning to receive a vaccine should expect the appointment to last at most 45 to 50 minutes. It will take time for the individual to get checked in, and there is a 15-minute observation requirement to monitor for any allergic reaction. 

Those who have questions about the vaccine can find information on the Olmsted County Public Health website. 

Agricultural workers are also eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin and Iowa

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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