JVG_210303_HORMEL

A medical worker holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine used to vaccinate health care workers at Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center, Janesville.

BELOIT

Hormel’s Beloit food processing plant has begun offering COVID-19 vaccines to its 400 employees through an on-site clinic, a representative said Tuesday.

It is the largest, and possibly first, initiative from a Rock County employer to offer on-site vaccinations for employees with the exception of local health care providers.

The state on Monday expanded vaccine eligibility to several groups, including food-supply-chain workers. Hormel began its vaccine program the same day, a representative from Hormel said in an email statement to The Gazette. The representative declined to be named.

Shots are being administered to Hormel employees through a partnership with Beloit Area Community Health Center, the statement said.

As of now, facilities must be approved by the state Department of Health Services to host a vaccine clinic. Hormel is listed on the state’s approved vaccine site map and labeled as having vaccine offered for specific eligibility groups.

The majority of Hormel’s Beloit employees have signed up for vaccinations already, and the Hormel representative said more employees are expected to sign up as the program continues.

It is unclear how long it will take to vaccinate all 400 employees. The timeline relies heavily on vaccine availability, according to the statement.

“We are hopeful that as soon as a team member wants to receive the vaccination, he or she will have access to it,” the representative said in the statement.

Food supply workers have been slammed particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic because of the inability to work from home, close working quarters and exposure to the public.

Hormel reported an outbreak of at least eight coronavirus cases at its Beloit plant in April, and the company’s plant in Ogle County, Illinois, was shut down around the same time because of an outbreak.

The Hormel representative said the company wanted to offer on-site vaccination clinics for convenience. The company has offered similar on-site flu shots in the past.

“This really is a partnership effort with the local and state health officials, and we are incredibly grateful for their partnership throughout the pandemic,” the Hormel representative said. “We are fortunate to have such outstanding professionals helping guide businesses like ours.”

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