COVID-19 Vaccines & Agriculture
Letter from the Secretary
When COVID-19 hit Pennsylvania, we saw the commonwealth and the world adopt practices largely borrowed from the agricultural biosecurity playbook.
As farmers, we're used to managing risk through written biosecurity plans to protect our operations. Maps to limit contact and movement. Practicing good hygiene, disinfecting equipment. And, if needed, quarantine.
And just as we rely on experts, like veterinarians, to help guide biosecurity planning, the world has relied on medical experts.
Veterinarians help us plan. They offer sound advice on how to keep our animals in the very best health, including which inoculations to consider for optimum herd or flock health. Because ultimately, we need to protect all of them — the health of one is linked to the health of the whole, the health of the whole linked to our success and ultimately the security of food in the commonwealth and the world.
As we have witnessed, stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system, so your body is ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. The COVID-19 vaccination combined with following other recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are the best protection from COVID-19.
If you've already had COVID-19, the vaccine is still recommended. While we've learned a lot about this virus over the past year, experts are still learning and do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.
Many of you may be eligible now in Phase 1A, where those who are 65+ or with certain pre-existing medical conditions are eligible. In addition to eligibility through Phase 1A, much of food and agriculture is eligible through Pennsylvania's special initiative where grocery workers, food processing, and farmworkers are among a prioritized group of frontline workers eligible to sign up for any vaccine (Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson). Finally, Phase 1B is right around the corner where all of agriculture is eligible. As you become eligible, I encourage you to step up to protect your family and employees that sustain your operation and are integral to sustaining life in the commonwealth and beyond.
You've labored through a pandemic as the community and world relied on you. In fields, barns, packing houses, and processing plants.
Just as science and innovation have been transformative to strengthening the resiliency of agriculture, this vaccine will be transformative for Pennsylvania if we step up and accept it.
Please take advantage of this opportunity to protect your family and employees.
Thank you for feeding Pennsylvania through our darkest days. With the vaccine, we can now see the light and a brighter, stronger Pennsylvania ahead.
Russell C. Redding, Secretary of Agriculture