WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Windsor Essex County Health Unit plans to start vaccinating farm workers next week, with plans to get COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of about 400 people a day.

The health unit says they will begin vaccinating temporary foreign workers as well as locals working on Essex County farms next week.

“Area farms were hard hit by the pandemic last year and continue to experience challenges due to their congregate living setting and work setting,” WECHU CEO Theresa Marentette says.

In 2020, there were around 50 outbreaks on local agri-farms and about 2,700 cases among workers.

Marentette says Erie Shores Healthcare and he WECHU’s public health inspectors have been working with local farms to create vaccine awareness and to get appointments booked at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre in Leamington.

“The farms have a big responsibility in obtaining consent and giving that preliminary information,” she says. “We’ll get consent as well at the vaccination site but they’re doing all of that background work as well to make sure people have all of their questions answered.”

The health unit is working with area farms to identify both temporary foreign workers as well as local people who work directly on the farms who may have roles that require them to live and or work in congregate settings.

“We have limited vaccine, we are using Moderna for the rollout and hope to do approximately 400 people in a day and we will just continue to work our way through the farms and do the best we can,” Marentette says.

She says the health unit has farms lined up all into next week and is working on getting more set the following week.

In addition to farm workers, the health unit will also start vaccinating adult recipients of chronic home care who cannot leave their homes.

“Two of our teams, consisting of a nurse practitioner and nurse will be vaccinating in the homes going home to home,” Marentette says.

The health unit has been working with the LHIN and says there are about 300 people in this category who will receive their COVID-19 shot in the coming weeks.