Rep. Gentile Leads Effort To Secure Priority Vaccines For Grocery Employees

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FRAMINGHAM – Today, March 9, Representative Carmine L. Gentile (D-Sudbury) and 34 of his colleagues in the legislature joined together in calling for Governor Baker to prioritize the vaccination of supermarket and grocery store workers.

“Our health care workers fighting in the face of COVID-19 needed to be the first among us to be protected. Next up was safeguarding everyone’s access to food and shelter. Evictions were halted and a moratorium placed on foreclosures, enabling people to keep a roof over their head. Our children are on their way back to school with educators and staff receiving vaccinations. Our grocery and supermarket workers, many of whom are Black or Latino – two groups suffering elevated percentages of COVID-19 infections and death, have allowed us all to eat while working in the face of COVID-19. Their time for vaccination is overdue and we need to vaccinate them now,” said Rep. Gentile, who represents residents in Sudbury, Wayland, Framingham, and Marlborough.

Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis, who represents Ashland & Framingham voters, and state Sen. Jamie Elderidge also signed the letter to Governor Charlie Baker.

Massachusetts is currently in Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution timeline with Groups 1 and 2 eligible for vaccination. Teachers were given priority in the state as of March 11, but grocery and supermarket workers have yet to become eligible for the vaccine.

“Essential workers continue to perform their service in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. A vast group of unrecognized essential workers have not been treated equitably by the vaccination roll-out. These are workers that we see when we buy our food and other items at the grocery stores and supermarkets. Each time a supermarket worker begins their shift they are exposed to the virus by community spread. Yet every day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, supermarket workers report to their shifts and remain on the bottom of the vaccine roll-out process,” wrote the 35 state representatives and senators.

“We the undersigned members of the General Court in collaboration with United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 1445, 791, 1459, and 328, who represent more than 18,000 supermarket workers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, implore you to prioritize the vaccination of supermarket workers in a most expeditious manner,” wrote the 35 legislators.

Many workers deemed essential last March 2020 when the pandemic began like supermarket employees, postal workers, funeral home employees, ahve yet to become eligible for the vaccine in Massachusetts.

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