Groups want truckers moved up on vaccination list

Numerous trucking organizations around the country are asking the federal government to give professional drivers greater priority for getting the vaccinations to guard against the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Long lines await many seeking the COVID-19 vaccine (Photo Spirit / Shutterstock.com)Long lines await many seeking the COVID-19 vaccine (Photo Spirit / Shutterstock.com)

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, the American Trucking Associations sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices asking that truckers be reclassified into the “1b” category from their existing “1c” designation. This would mean truckers would be eligible to receive vaccinations after the 24 million Americans in the “1a” category that includes health care workers and residents and staff of nursing homes.

The ACIP’s “1b” group includes 19 million people 75 years old and older and 30 million essential frontline workers.

The “1c” group, which now includes truckers, includes 28 million Americans ages 65 to 74, 20 million other essential workers, and 81 million people ages 16 to 64 who have high-risk factors for contracting the coronavirus.

In its letter asking for the reclassification, the ATA and its member state associations said, “The health of our nation’s truck drivers is critical to ensuring the safe and timely delivery of medicine, food, water, fuel and other basic necessities throughout the duration of this pandemic, and as truckers are now called upon to deliver vaccines across the country, it is imperative that drivers have prioritized access in order to minimize the potential for further supply chain delays and disruptions.”

The letter also said truckers’ “1c” classification is “inconsistent with the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. In March of 2020, CISA classified truck drivers as essential to the continued viability of our nation’s infrastructure for the duration of the pandemic.”

The letter said truckers provide essential support to other essential workers.

“Health care providers, first responders, corrections officers, manufacturers, grocery clerks and teachers all rely on trucks for the equipment and supplies needed to carry out their professional duties,” said the letter. “Moreover, high-risk populations are now depending on the trucking workforce to deliver vaccine supplies to every corner of the country. Including America’s professional truck drivers in Phase 1b will help ensure the supply chain keeps running, essential frontline workers have the resources they need, and high-risk populations have continued access to the vaccine.”

As of today, Jan 29, 25.8 million Americans have contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus and 433,000 have died. Also, to date, just 1% of Americans have received the required two doses of the vaccine; 6% have gotten one dose.