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HHS Coordinates New Effort to Vaccinate Migratory and Seasonal Workers in the Food and Agriculture Sectors

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12
CONTACT: HRSA PRESS OFFICE 301-443-3376
Press@hrsa.gov  
 

As part of President Biden's commitment to ensure the nation's underserved communities and those disproportionately affected by COVID-19 are equitably vaccinated, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is coordinating efforts to support COVID-19 vaccination of migratory and seasonal agricultural workers including workers in the food sector.

These workers, including workers in the food sector, are often at heightened risk of COVID-19 infection as a result of multiple common factors, such as living in congregate housing, using shared transportation, and close working conditions. The majority of HRSA-supported health center patients who are migratory and seasonal agricultural workers are concentrated in the following five states: California, Florida, North Carolina, Washington, and New York. Racial and ethnic groups who are experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 infection are also disproportionately represented among this worker population. To boost vaccination rates among these workers, HHS agencies are taking the following actions:

  • Using a data-driven approach to focus on key target regions.
  • Utilizing the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program to support health centers serving a large number of MSAW patients.
  • Partnering with jurisdictions to better reach migratory and seasonal agricultural workers.

"Migratory and seasonal agricultural workers including workers in the food sector are essential to the critical infrastructure of our nation," said Acting HRSA Administrator Diana Espinosa. "We are redoubling our efforts to ensure these critical communities have access to COVID-19 vaccinations, especially as they prepare to migrate over the spring and summer months."

These efforts build on the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program, a program that directly allocates COVID-19 vaccines to HRSA-supported health centers, some of which directly provide care to this worker population. Since its launch in February, more than 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered by health centers participating in the program. Seventy percent of the doses have been administered to racial or ethnic minority patients, and nearly 76,000 doses has been administered to patients who are migratory and seasonal agricultural workers.

HRSA-supported health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver affordable, accessible, quality, and cost-effective primary health care to nearly 30 million patients each year, over one million of which are patients who are migratory and seasonal agricultural workers. Additionally, over 91% of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and nearly 63% are racial/ethnic minorities. Health centers across the nation are playing vital roles in supporting local community responses to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

To view a list of the health centers participating in or invited to join the program, please visit: https://www.hrsa.gov/coronavirus/health-center-program.

To locate a HRSA-supported health center, visit: https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov.

Date Last Reviewed:  May 2021