The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a new program designed to encourage COVID-19 vaccination among miners in Kentucky and Arizona. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that vaccination rates are below 60% in the two states where a number of mining operations exist.
The department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will pilot the Mine Vaccine Outreach Program to deliver free vaccinations in mining communities and provide educational outreach on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.
Participation in the program is voluntary and free for mine operators in Kentucky and Arizona. Program representatives will collaborate with the states’ mine operators to identify convenient locations, coordinate with health professionals to administer vaccine services, and develop communication programs to address the community’s questions and concerns.
On January 26, the agency held a public vaccine clinic at the Kentucky Crushed Stone Association Safety and Education Seminar in Louisville, Ky. During the same week, MSHA hosted two vaccination clinics in Arizona for employees at the Asarco Ray Mine in Kearny and the Asarco Mission Mine in Sahuarita.
“The U.S. Department of Labor’s [MSHA] exists to protect the safety and health of the nation’s miners from hazards in their workplaces,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Jeannette Galanis.
“COVID-19 has killed more than 860,000 people in the U.S. alone and like other mining hazards, it demands we take action to prevent workers from suffering needlessly. Providing free COVID-19 vaccinations is a natural extension of our efforts to ensure safe workplaces.”
MSHA has selected Ashburn, Va.-based Jazz Solutions Inc. to administer the program.