As of March 22, 159 Cargo Transporters drivers and employees have received their first COVID-19 vaccination. - Photo: Cargo Transporters

As of March 22, 159 Cargo Transporters drivers and employees have received their first COVID-19 vaccination.

Photo: Cargo Transporters

Cargo Transporters is working directly with the Catawba Valley Health System this month to get its drivers and employees the COVID-19 vaccine, including making sure their drivers are routed so they can get their second vaccination four weeks later.

The Claremont, North Carolina-based truckload fleet's drivers and employees have been recognized as frontline essential workers throughout the pandemic, and getting them vaccinated was a high priority, explained Kristy Hedrick, vice president of human resources at Cargo Transporters, in an interview.

“As soon as vaccines were even being spoken of and approved, we had that on our radar,” Hedrick said.

But the challenge for Cargo Transporters drivers, like many commercial truck drivers across the country, was coordinating appointments while on the road.

The Catawba County Public Health Department in North Carolina contacted the trucking operation notifying them that the county would be working alongside the Catawba Valley Health System and regional medical centers to streamline the vaccine process to minimize workplace disruptions. Through this partnership, Cargo Transporters was able to designate two days a week that were open for Cargo Transporters employees to make their appointments.

What this did was open up the opportunity for greater coordination between drivers, operations and human resources, according to the company. When a driver elects to have a vaccine, he or she notifies the HR department, which sets up the first and second vaccine appointment during the allotted days. Once this is set up, the HR department can then coordinate with operations to ensure that the driver's routes will work with the vaccine schedule.

As of March 16, 90 Cargo Transporters employees had received their first vaccination, and by March 22, that number was up to 159.

The partnership was well-received by Cargo Transporters' drivers, Hedrick said.

“They know the obstacles that they face in everyday coordination of travel, and this gave them one less thing to have to worry about while they were on the road."

Hendrick recommended that other fleets interested in offering a similar benefit for their drivers to contact their local health department. “That would be a good starting point.”  

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