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How FDA Food Supply Data Supports COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

In the latest FDA Voices post, Dr. Stephen Hahn and Frank Yiannas, M.P.H. discuss how the new data analysis tool, 21 FORWARD, is helping food and agriculture workers receive vaccines.

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The new data analysis tool that began as a way to inform national pandemic response is now being used to help states with vaccine distribution to essential workers in food and agriculture. The FDA has partnered with members of Operation Warp Speed, the CDC, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for this effort.

21 FORWARD was developed in a joint effort by the following FDA groups to identify pandemic-related risks to the food supply.

  • Office of Food Policy and Response
  • Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
  • Office of Regulatory Affairs
  • Center for Veterinary Medicine

In the post, Hahn and Yiannas explain, “Early on in the pandemic, workers in the food and agriculture sector were identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency as being among essential critical infrastructure workers, meaning that their ability to do their job safely is critical to our society’s ability to function. The FDA, in partnership with CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has been working to provide food facilities the information and resources they need to help protect their workers against COVID-19 infection.”

Groups have advocated for workers in food and agriculture to receive high priority for COVID-19 vaccinations. The FDA is contributing information from its 21 FORWARD tool on the estimated numbers and distribution of food and agriculture sector employees who work at FDA-regulated food facilities to Operation Warp Speed’s Tiberius platform, labeled as a "one-stop shop" for data related to vaccine planning, delivery and administration for states and cities.

The effort should ultimately “help target vaccine distribution by providing state and local officials with information to help determine how many food and agriculture workers they have in each county and enabling them to quickly identify where those workers are located,” they explain.

21 FORWARD has already been put to use for conducting calls to FDA-regulated food facilities in hot spots or areas with potential for hot spots, to go over current production status, whether guidance is helping, and if they need further help from the Foods COVID-19 Technical Assistance Team.

For more, visit the full FDA Voices post: Unleashing the Power of FDA Data to Support COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution to Food and Agriculture Workers

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