Under Oregon's plan for COVID-19 vaccines, grocery workers will be eligible for vaccination on May 1.
But a union representing those workers called on Gov. Kate Brown to reconsider her decision, pointing to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance that puts grocery workers on a par with law enforcement, firefighters and teachers, who have already been given access to vaccines in Oregon.
"Kate Brown's decision to ignore the CDC is a travesty that has placed all Oregonians at a greater risk of COVID infection," says Dan Clay, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, which represents grocery workers in Oregon.
“Today’s decision is the culmination of bad decisions made by the governor of Oregon, who seems to be actively working against the CDC recommendations. Putting politics over science is and will continue to be a deadly choice for Oregonians,” he adds.
The federal government provided wide latitude to states in determining who gets the vaccine first.
Union officials argue vaccinating grocery workers will make it safer not just for employees but for customers.
There are limited supplies of vaccines, and Gov. Kate Brown has chosen those with underlying health conditions to go first.
"Because Oregonians with underlying health conditions are more at risk to COVID-19 than others, it was critical to ensure they could be vaccinated as soon as possible," says Brown spokesman Charles Boyle. "These are tough decisions, and scarce vaccine supplies mean we can't vaccinated everyone at once. But as supplies from the federal government increase, all Oregonians who want a vaccine will be able to get one."
As of Feb. 13, 13 states were already offering vaccines to grocery workers, The Washington Post reported.