In the last year, there have been quarantines, mask mandates, and workplace rules put in place that have greatly affected our farmworkers and the way they execute their daily tasks on the farm. Everyone wishes for things to return to normal, and vaccines are the key. It is our responsibility to educate and encourage our employees to become fully vaccinated to get there faster.
None of us would be interested in getting any medicine that we didn't understand. So your first step as a farm manager is to educate your employees. We recommend starting from the beginning. Remind your workers how COVID is spread, mask-wearing, handwashing, and social distancing protocols are a great starting point. Then move onto answering questions about the actual vaccine, like what it is, who is eligible to receive it, etc. Finally, educate employees on what to expect after being vaccinated, like side effects and getting their second shot (if appropriate). Make your next safety meeting about vaccines. We have a great COVID vaccine Q&A video ready to be sent directly to your employees.
Pro-tip: Add vaccine information into your hiring packets to ensure new hires are given the best information and training on their first day. Doing this will normalize being vaccinated on your farm and set informal expectations of employees.
Set an example
Is there anyone within your company that has already received a vaccine? It is essential to find someone who the workforce respects and trusts. This example employee may be a farm manager, HR staff, or more likely -- a crew boss. Use them as a company-wide example, and share their story with your employees. The most important thing to remember is that you want these conversations to make your employees feel as comfortable as possible. Create opportunities for trusted, vaccinated employees to tell their story of how they signed up to get the vaccine; to the side-effects they felt afterward. Communicating this could be as simple as a handout that employees get when they pick up their paycheck or a message sent to all employees on their phones.
Pro-tip: If you, or a person trusted by your workers, are on your way to be vaccinated, take a camera with you! Take pictures or video of the experience, then use the Communication tool on Harvust to send a message, with a picture of getting the shot, encouraging your employees to do the same.
Help them find a place to get vaccinated
The current online vaccination appointment booking process is complicated. To fix that, we've made it easy for you to give your employees everything they need to find the nearest clinic and to help them schedule an appointment for a vaccine. At app.harvust.com/vaccine, your employees will find up to three available vaccine sites near your farm, translated instructions to make an appointment, and a "proof of eligible employment" letter. You can use the Communication tool on Harvust to share this information with your employees. Send a message encouraging your employees to get a vaccine and include the link app.harvust.com/vaccine.
Of course, not all of your employees will be able to book a vaccination online. So have hard copies of resources available to give your employees if they ask. Have in the office a hard copy of nearby vaccine site locations with phone numbers. Although not technically required, some clinics may ask your employees for a letter proving eligible employment, so provide that as well. In addition to the office, we recommend posting vaccine information in every common area on your farm. If you can, organize an event on your farm after work with Spanish speakers available to help employees one-on-one book an appointment.
Keep the conversation going
Now that you have built the vaccine momentum don't let it slow down! It is now time to do everything you can to keep vaccines at the forefront of your farmworkers' minds. Allow time for COVID vaccine conversations at morning check-ins. Encourage your vaccinated workers to share with others, and encourage your unvaccinated workers to ask questions. The more your employees hear about the vaccine, the more comfortable they will be with the idea of getting the shot themselves.
Pro-tip: Continue to remind your workers that just because they get a vaccine does not mean that they can stop following the other COVID rules.