June 17, 2021

Gp Delivers

The excellent automotive artisans

COVID-19 vaccines reaching auto plants, but challenges remain

Van Amersfoort is part of a cross-functional team that the former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles assembled toward of the end of 2020 to manage its vaccination strategy and its response to the pandemic in general. The group meets two to three times a week, he said, and consists of staffers from external affairs, legal, communications, medical operations, and environmental health and safety.

The external affairs unit, he said, stays in contact with the states to “understand where are we within specific phases of the allocations, when do they think that we would be up, when would essential workers be up for vaccines and so forth.”

The automaker has been educating employees about the efficacy of the vaccine through panels and informational documents.

Workers in Belvidere, a Stellantis spokeswoman said, received flyers about how to sign up for vaccinations and were sent text messages to remind them of available appointments. The plant also did a podcast with SwedishAmerican on why people should consider the vaccine.

A group of plant workers got their shots a few days before the vaccinations officially began and served as ambassadors within the factory.

Having the wellness center 2 miles from the Belvidere plant, Van Amersfoort said, was critical to getting the vaccine administered. Stellantis has similar facilities in Kokomo, Ind., and Detroit.

“Being able to just inform employees of the opportunity to get a vaccine, get them scheduled, provide the location and then eventually administer the vaccine really requires a strong resource network and infrastructure,” he said.

The Boone County Health Department, which is working with Stellantis in Belvidere, wants to take lessons learned from the partnership and apply them to other manufacturers in the area, said Amanda Mehl, the county’s health administrator.

Mehl said the biggest challenge going forward will be vaccine supply.

“Our No. 1 exposure location due to our contact-tracing efforts here in Boone County was the factory setting,” Mehl said. “For us, it was a huge priority to get into the factory setting with vaccine because our goal is to stop the spread and prevent future spread of COVID-19 as quickly and efficiently as we can.”