Dallas County launches effort to vaccinate essential retail workers

Dallas County leaders launched a program Monday to offer vaccines to essential retail workers.

All of the employees have been working with customers since the pandemic started more than one year ago and many said they worried not knowing who was sick and who wasn't.

For Kroger cashier Gabriel Garcia, working the self-checkout line is now a little less nerve-racking.

"I like working with people and interacting with customers, but I also want to make sure that I’m safe when I do so," Garcia said.

He and several of his coworkers were able to get the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine right at the store pharmacy on Monday.

"I have grandkids and I like interacting and I want everyone to be safe. So this is a good opportunity to go ahead and get it done. Especially when it’s offered at your job," said clerk Laura Daniels.

Dallas County is partnering with the Texas Retailers Association to get essential workers in the area vaccinated. Kroger, Tom Thumb-Albertsons and Target took them up on the offer.

"We can get them their shot right as their shift starts or ends. It’s a good program, one that we’re proud to do," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

The county set aside some 2,300 shots this week, which were divided between Kroger and Tom Thumb-Albertsons. Each week that number could change depending on the total allotment from the state.

"We’re really excited to be able to vaccinate the workers who have been on the front lines. Today is a great day now that things are opening up for everyone," said Dr. Philip Huang, Dallas County Health Director.

There's about 8,500 essential workers who work in Dallas County and are eligible to get vaccinated through this program. The grocery chains are offering their employees $100 to get vaccinated.

"We want to encourage our workforce every way we can to get vaccinated so we can have our entire workforce protected and able to serve the public," said Jeff Loesch, Kroger Health.

Kroger clerk Joyce Brown, 75, was one of the first in line.

"I’ve been thinking about it because I’ve had relatives who have been sick and my doctor, he just passed, he had it. So I’m like okay I need to do something with myself," Brown said.

Officials note that the shots in this program are not available to the general public, just for frontline workers at their respective store.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccines open to all Texans over the age of 16 starting Monday