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GREELEY, Colo. (KDVR) — Governor Jared Polis and Department of Agriculture Commissioner Kate Greenberg joined officials at the JBS plant parking lot for an employee vaccination event on Friday.

The administering of vaccine doses to employees should be a welcome event after several outbreaks at the plant during the course of the pandemic. Six employees at the plant died from the coronavirus.

“Today’s events make clear the value that Colorado places on the safety and equitable treatment of agricultural workers. Workers across food and agriculture have always been essential, and this past year has reminded us how true that is. Today I saw hundreds of essential food and ag workers gain access to the vaccine, which highlights how absolutely fundamental the people of Colorado agriculture are to our incredible state,” Greenberg said.

“The Colorado Department of Agriculture and our partners have worked tirelessly for the last year to mitigate the impacts from COVID-19 that affected the processing facilities across the state and the country, and this is an exciting, tangible act that is bringing us another step closer to emerging from the pandemic crisis,” she said.

Phase 1B.3 of Colorado’s vaccination distribution opened to individuals 60 and up, frontline grocery and agricultural workers, and individuals 16-59 with two or more high-risk conditions. 

“I’m proud of the progress Colorado has made in getting shots of this life-saving vaccine into arms. We know that each shot in an arm is one step closer to ending this crisis,” Polis said.

“Throughout this challenging year, our frontline food and agricultural workers have been critical to keeping our food supply up running and supporting our economy. Thanks to Commissioner Greenberg’s important efforts and our vaccine team, my administration was able to partner with everyone involved to make these clinics a reality. Every Coloradan who wants a shot will get a shot and these efforts are an important step.”

Polis also made a stop in Fort Morgan where Cargill workers received their first dose of the vaccine.

The vaccinations were able to take place through a partnership with Marathon Health. The company’s CEO Dr. Jeff Wells says the vaccination process has not been easy but Friday’s event was rewarding.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to play a role,” Wells said. “A great partnership with the public sector, leadership around the state, local health department. To work with Cargill, to work with local 455 teamsters and our team here to help get some of the people vaccinated.”

Now that this round of protection is in place for the first group, the governor said he is focused on increasing awareness.

“There’s a lot of work to help educate folks who don’t speak English, whose second language is English — they’re working on translation and outreach. In the Somali community, Ethiopian community, many other communities of immigrant workers,” Polis said.

This was the first of several events dedicated to vaccinating these essential employees, but Polis says he is confident the state will repeat its success when it comes to moving through this next vaccination phase.