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Food industry workers “excited” to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Mar. 21, 2021 at 9:45 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Last week, the South Dakota Department of Health announced that Group 1E will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine come Monday, and now some employers are feeling a sense of relief knowing their employees can now get vaccinated.

Group 1E is the 5th group to become eligible for the vaccine, and according to the state consists of 227,000 people, many of which hold essential jobs.

The pandemic has given those in the food industry many challenges, including their employees being in contact with many people on a daily basis.

“It’s put a lot stress on a lot of minds knowing that doing our job is frontline work, by no means are we anywhere near the frontline of the hospitals, or the firefighters, police officers that come in contact with everyone every day. But we see a lot of faces and we’ve got to protect not only them but ourselves,” MacKenzie River General Manager Jesse Schanzenbach.

MacKenzie River staff and other restaurant employees are set to become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine Monday, which is bringing some excitement.

“We’re so excited to have myself, and my entire staff vaccinated. We’ve been so conscious about trying to protect and maintain and make sure that our guests are as safe as possible. This is just one more step in the proper direction to get back to some normalcy,” Schanzenbach said.

Another industry set to become eligible is finance, and places like Great Western Bank.

“That’s one of the biggest things I worry about is just the safety of the employees, right, because you don’t know what the customers are at when coming in. So, knowing that they can get it and want to get it, that adds a lot of comfort to me,” said Chief People Officer at Great Western Bank Andy Pederson.

Although vaccine rollout is a process, the glass is half full for those up next to get a shot.

“We’ve been looking forward to something like this for a long time, and we’ve been watching and waiting patiently, due-diligence, keeping everybody safe. But now, we actually get our chance to keep ourselves and our guests that much more safe,” said Schanzenbach.

Group 1E consists of fire service personnel and critical infrastructure workers like agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, communications and many others.

After Group 1E the SDDOH says vaccines will be open to the general public, which they expect to be before May first.

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