If you drive for a company with 100 or more employees you may soon have to face a choice: get vaccinated against the COVID-19 coronavirus or be tested for it weekly.
That's the major requirement of a plan announced Thursday, Sept. 9 by President Joe Biden in the federal government's strongest effort to date to control the continued spread of the Delta variant and get the economy on track. Businesses that fail to comply with the regulation will face possibly hefty fines.
"The time for waiting is over," said Biden when announcing the plan, which also requires employers to give their workers time off to be vaccinated.
Biden's plan, to be implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also requires all federal employees to be vaccinated but provides no testing options for them. Biden said he will also sign an executive order requiring contractors working for the federal government to have their employees vaccinated.
The new federal COVID attack has already encountered pushback, with governors of several states threatening legal action.
It also is contrary to plans most trucking companies have for dealing with the pandemic. Same for individual truckers.
A recent poll of for-hire and private fleets by our sister publication Commercial Carrier Journal before Biden's announcement Thursday found the vast majority had no plans of their own to require employee vaccinations.
CCJ found "91% of for-hire and private carrier respondents said they had not mandated that employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine and/or agree to undergo regular testing, and almost 60% said they didn’t plan to enact such a measure.
"Among for-hire carriers with 101 or more trucks – a size large enough to be swept up in Biden’s mandate – 93% thus far have yet to implement testing or vaccinations and 52% said they don’t plan to. Just more than 26% of this same group said they were undecided and were seeking advice and/or counsel before making a decision."
CCJ's poll also found a modest number of carriers had offered monetary incentives to employees to get vaccinated, or offered time off for them to get the vaccine.
Biden's tougher approach is not likely to sit well with individual drivers. A recent Truckers News poll found that some 30 percent of drivers would tell their employer to fire them if required to be vaccinated. Another 16% said they would quit.
Twenty-five percent of those responding to the Truckers News poll said they were already vaccinated and 6% said they would take the jab if required.
Biden's plan comes as the Delta variant is driving up the number of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. To date, 40.7 million Americans have contracted the disease and some 656,000 have died from it.