Minnesota vaccine campaign to prioritize outreach for food service workers

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Vaccine providers in Minnesota will prioritize food service workers in the coming weeks.

Gov. Tim Walz made the announcement at a community vaccination clinic at Mall of America Wednesday.

He said the new "Roll Up Your Sleeves" campaign will include outreach to restaurant workers.

"Every worker is essential, every business matters, but these industries were hit the hardest," Walz said.

State launches industry-focused vaccine outreach campaign

The hospitality industry in Minnesota lost about 100,000 jobs over the past year, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. So far, only about half of those jobs have returned.

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said vaccines are the ticket to helping this critical workforce get back up and running. He said vaccinating food service workers will also help boost consumer confidence in visiting bars and restaurants.

As part of the new campaign, state leaders said they will urge vaccine providers to check their databases to see who is listed as food service workers so they can reach out to those workers directly to let them know they are currently a priority group for vaccines.

"A great percentage of the restaurant workforce are Latinos. Latinos and other minorities have great risk to get sick and die from COVID-19," said Ramiro Torres Rodriguez of Parasole Restaurants. "That is why I would like to encourage all Latinos and all minorities to get vaccine as soon as possible. As managers, we would like to have you, your families and our customers safe."

Some restaurant leaders in the Twin Cities, such as Punch Pizza and Blue Plate Restaurant Company, said they will also host their own vaccine clinics, so servers, bartenders and other workers have easy access to COVID-19 shots.