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Frontline workers should be next in line for vaccine, North Texas business leaders say

Food service workers did not make the cut for the next phase of vaccine eligibility.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Business and industry leaders are calling for foodservice and frontline workers to be next in line for the COVID-19 vaccine, after being left out of the latest expansion of eligibility.

Starting March 15, vaccine eligibility extends to adults 50 and older, as well as those at risk of serious medical complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended essential workers such as food service employees should be included, but that didn’t happen in Texas.

“We continue to believe frontline restaurant workers should be eligible for the vaccine,” reads a statement from the Texas Restaurant Association. 

“We recognize and appreciate that the expert vaccine panel is weighing many factors, including the risk of a serious or life-threatening case of COVID-19 that could lead to hospitalization, which is tied to age and pre-existing conditions. Thankfully many restaurant workers who are over age 50 now become eligible for the vaccine under 1C. We will continue to advocate for the others to be added as soon as possible," the TRA said. 

Until vaccines are more widely available, the association will continue promoting COVID-19 safety in Texas restaurants.

“We’re looking forward to the future, particularly with vaccines rolling out,” said Kelsey Erickson Streufert, Vice President of government affairs and advocacy for the TRA. “At the same time let’s make sure that we’re continuing to promote safe practices in our spaces, making sure that everyone knows what we still need to do to keep everyone safe from this virus and get out of this pandemic once and for all.”

Downtown Fort Worth’s Neighbors House Grocery welcomes 300 to 500 customers a day, according to co-owner Kyle Cowan.

Cowan said he is thankful about 75% of the workers have been vaccinated, and would like to see all grocery workers included in the next round of expansion

“Being able to be vaccinated just gives those folks piece of mind that they can come to work and do their job and not having to worry about what’s standing across from them,” Cowan said.