The American Trucking Associations has called on policymakers to remember the trucking industry’s essential status as a national COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy is being formulated.
In letters sent to the White House, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, President-elect Biden, and the National Governors Association, ATA asked that the trucking industry’s workforce be included in prioritized access pools along with other essential workers.
The letters point out the industry’s designation as essential by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, noting that more than 80% of U.S. communities rely exclusively on trucks to receive necessary goods.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve emergency use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine soon, possibly as early as next week. The agency is then expected to approve one from Moderna. Others are in the pipeline, as well.
Some 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccine are already being produced and can start shipping as soon as the Food and Drug Administration approves them. An independent panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended this week that the first vaccines go to residents and employees of nursing homes as well as health care workers who are especially at risk of being exposed to the virus. It will be left up to each state to determine how they distribute the vaccine, but they typically follow the CDC recommendations.
The Department of Transportation announced it has taken regulatory measures to help ensure the safe, rapid transportation of the COVID-19 vaccine, including expanding the emergency exemption for trucking operations involved in the effort.
“Our workforce represents a central and critical link in the nation’s supply chain and will play an essential role in the imminent COVID-19 vaccine distribution process,” wrote Bill Sullivan, ATA’s executive vice president for advocacy. “As the trucking industry is called upon to deliver vaccines across the country, it is imperative that truck drivers have prioritized access to the vaccine to minimize the potential for supply chain delays and disruptions.”
“Just as efforts were necessary to support prioritized distribution of PPE to the dedicated professionals who ensure the continuity of our nation’s supply chain, we must now focus our efforts to ensure that these same critical infrastructure workers have prioritized access to the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available.”