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In-Depth: Northeast Ohio grocery workers believe they should be part of state's vaccine plan

In-Depth: N.E. Ohio grocery workers believe they should be part of the state vaccine plan
In-Depth: N.E. Ohio grocery workers believe they should be part of the state vaccine plan
Posted at 10:10 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 06:05:17-05

CLEVELAND — Some Northeast Ohio grocery employees believe they should already be part of the state's current COVID-19 vaccine plan, even though they understand vaccine doses statewide are limited.

Jacob Gigliotti is a Northeast Ohio produce manager, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, and believes grocery employees are essential workers who should be part of the state Phase 1B inoculation list.

“It's definitely been a challenging year," Gigliotti said. "It’s weighed on a lot of us mentally and physically.”

“I feel that essential workers should have been on the priority side of the vaccination.”

“The risk is absolutely real, we deal with the public day in and day out, most of us see thousands of people a week.”

"For us to kind of stay in our bubble doesn’t really happen, we are subjected to random people daily.”

“We should have been prioritized a little bit more, the essential workers that are in the public.”

Kristin Mullins, President and CEO of the Ohio Grocers Association, agrees with Gigliotti and thousands of other grocery workers statewide who face daily COVID-19 risks and pointed to the Center's for Disease Control recommendation to give grocery workers Phase 1B status.

Mullins told News 5 she understands Ohio's vaccine supply is an issue right now but believes that shouldn't stop Ohio Governor Mike DeWine from adding grocery workers to the state plan

“We have been on that frontline, we have been feeding families across the state from the very beginning,” Mullins said. “We’ve never shutdown, we’ve never stopped, in fact, our businesses have ramped-up.”

“We would like some priority in the vaccination availability. We are essential, we have been essential from the beginning, and we would love to be on the list.”

“With all due respect to the Governor and the big job he has done for us, and we are appreciative, but we would really like to have some clarification.”

“We were always hopeful for some type of prioritization, but as of yet, we just haven’t seen it.”

News 5 contacted DeWine's office for this story, but it couldn't tell us if or when state grocery workers will be added to the vaccination plan.

The Governor's office issued the following statement in response to our story:

"While there is a compelling case for this group and many groups to receive the vaccine as soon as possible, there is not enough vaccine supply right now to vaccinate all groups at this time. Vaccine eligibility to date has reflected Governor DeWine’s goals of saving as many lives as possible and returning K-12 students to in-person instruction."