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Grocery store workers have been on the front lines for a year, but they're struggling to get the Covid vaccine

February 18, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 19.3%. 2 min read.

An employee wears protective gloves while scanning groceries inside a Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store in West Covina, California, U.S., on Friday, May 29, 2020. In the first quarter, sales rose 16% to $1.6 billion, Sprouts' best growth since 2015 and the company plans to add 20 stores this year. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Covid-19 vaccine that once offered grocery store workers hope for their safety remains elusive for most.

New York (CNN Business)Grocery store workers in the United States have been stocking shelves, handling customers and keeping stores tidy in challenging and sometimes dangerous pandemic conditions for almost a year.

Although coronavirus risks are high and new variants of the virus are spreading, most of the more than 2. 4 million low-wage grocery workers in this country have not yet been made eligible for the vaccine.

"There's so many people in the store," said the 11-year Kroger veteran and United Food and Commercial Workers union member.

"Kroger continues to advocate to federal, state and elected officials to prioritize frontline grocery workers to receive the vaccine," the spokesperson added.

But despite the risks, in 37 states, grocery workers are not eligible to get vaccinated, according to the union.

Still, many grocery workers will likely have to work for months more without access to a vaccine that is inside their stores.

Grocery workers "should be prioritized for the [Covid] vaccine" as the CDC first recommended, Leslie Sarsin, CEO of FMI, the Food Industry Association, said in an email.

Sarah Demerrit, 58, who works overnight shifts at a Safeway in Lake Oswego, Oregon, cleaning down the store, said that even though she is not interacting with customers, she worries that one of her co-workers may infect her.

Kelli, an online order filler and cashier in her mid-30s at Sprouts Farmers Market in Texas who spoke on the condition her last name be withheld from this article because she was not authorized to speak to the media, said it was "heartbreaking" that grocery workers like her were not eligible to receive the vaccine in the state.

A spokesperson for Sprouts said in an email that the company is "working to coordinate access to the vaccine for our workforce as supply increases and grocery workers become eligible" in different states.

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