'We've been tossed aside': Wisconsin grocers push to be in next group of COVID-19 vaccinations

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WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin grocery store workers are pushing hard to be the next group of covid-19 vaccinations.

“Being that we are such a public-facing role, grocery workers don’t have the opportunity to work remotely," Lisa Grudzielanek, Metcalfe's assistant director of operations, said.

She said Metcalfe's has 500 employees between its three stores, and estimates between 15,000 to 20,000 customers visit their locations each week.

She said some employees are anxiously awaiting the vaccine.

"A lot of our employees are actually concerned about what they may be bringing home to a family member," she explained.

The CDC recommended grocery workers for Phase 1B, listing them as "frontline" and "essential".

But the State Disaster Medical Advisory Subcommittee did not put them in Phase 1B for vaccinations.

"Grocery workers have been deemed essential for the last 10+ months, showing up, coming to work," said Grudzielanek. "There was a safer at home order out there and our team was scared, and they still had a job to do.”

The president of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, Brandon Scholz, said grocers have done everything asked of them to keep stores safe. 

"We’re confused. We’re confused as to why we’ve been tossed aside," said Scholz.

If grocers are not on the final list, he said he wants Governor Evers to “follow the science” and reject the recommendations.

"If the point of the vaccinations is to not only prevent people from getting sick, but more to the larger point and that is stopping the spread, then it makes total sense to have this group of people vaccinated," he added.

The Wisconsin DHS told CBS 58 Wisconsin will follow federal and state guidance.

They say they will open eligibility to other populations as the state gets more vaccines.

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